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City of Banjul
Sunday, March 7, 2021

Stranded Gambians in Niger plead for repatriation

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By Omar Bah

Gambian migrants deported from Morocco and Algeria to Niger numbering at least 30, have appealed to The Gambia Government for urgent repatriation to Banjul.

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The group told The Standard yesterday: “We are desperately seeking assistance from the government to return home. We want to come back as things are very difficult for us. We struggle to even have food to eat and things are getting worse. Many of us were deported from Algeria and Morocco. The hopes we had to proceed to Europe have been shattered.

“We contacted the IOM who informed us that they have sent a list of Gambians requesting to return home to the government, but for three months we have not heard anything concrete. It shocks us to see other countries repatriating their citizens while we continue to suffer helplessly. Countries like Mali, Guinea and others have repatriated their citizens. This has left us confused and devastated,” the group said in a joint statement.

In a sign of increasing desperation, the group urged political parties and Muslim and Christian leaders to “mediate in facilitating a flight” for them. “We are homeless. Our government is our only hope right now,” the group pleaded.

“We are living in horrible conditions – there is no food, no place to sleep. We spend the night under a wooden house and the weather is very cold here. When we contacted IOM, they only told us they have sent our documents to The Gambia Government but they have not replied. Niger is preparing for election and we are worried that there could be election violence,” the group added. 

The group added: “It saddens us that there are no signs that we will leave here anytime soon. It is really terrible. We want the government to come to our aid before the end of December. If we stay any further here we will die of hunger. All our monies and belongings have been taken from us. We don’t have anything now. We want to come to The Gambia.”

When contacted for comments, the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry in Banjul, Saikou Ceesay, said the ministry has not received information about the  Gambians stranded in Niger wanting to return to the country.

“The government is “very concerned” about Gambians stranded anywhere in the world, but frankly as far as the Foreign Ministry is concerned, we have not received any notification.”

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