By Mustapha Darboe
The fate of dozens of stranded and kidnapped Gambians in the Libyan town of Sabratha have raised anxiety after it emerged that they cannot be accessed by a team of the International Organisation for Migration IOM for voluntary repatriation.
Sabratha is in the Zawiya District of Libya and the town has been recognised as route for Gambian migrants who are migrating to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.
“That area is very dangerous. Things are getting bad every day after the kidnapping of UN staff (around the area). We don’t know when we will go there,” Edrisa Sarjo, secretary general for the Gambian Association in Libya told The Standard.
The Gambia is currently without a consulate in Libya and it is the Gambia Association in Libya that helps IOM to register Gambians who want to voluntarily return.
It is not clear how many Gambians are being kidnapped or jailed in Libya, mostly for ransom from their families back home, but conservative estimates show at least 512.
The IOM, The Standard has gathered, will be returning another batch of migrants likely this week but rebel-infested eastern Libya remains largely inaccessible.
Last week Wednesday, two UN staff were kidnapped in Zawiya, a city in northwestern Libya, situated on the Libyan coastline of the Mediterranean Sea about 45 km west of Tripoli.