By Alagie Manneh
Germany-based Gambian migration activist, Yahya Sonko, has called on President Barrow to convene a national dialogue on how irregular migration can be managed, following a new surge in the number of people taking the backway.
“I am advising President Barrow to call for a national dialogue, for an honest and hard talk about migration because trips are organised in villages and within the communities, therefore we must have a dialogue involving all alkalolu, VDC heads, chiefs and governors. They can even help the police in sharing vital information with regard to backway boat trip organisers,” he advised.
Generally, Mr Sonko said the government has done very little to address the issue of backway.
He added: “As usual, they will wait until another tragedy occurs before they react. The Gambia is a very small country, and we all know that boat trips are being organised in our communities. Where are the SIS, the Gambia Immigration Department (GID), and the navy? What stops them from tracking these smugglers and organisers of these boat trips? The IOM has over the years organised a series of capacity building trainings and workshops for immigration officers with regard to irregular migration. The knowledge gained in those trainings should be invested to help tackle the issue of irregular migration in The Gambia.”
Sonko said the current migration crisis in the Canary Islands is becoming the largest influx of immigrant boats since 2006, with over 30,000 survivors arriving on the shores so far this year with notably more women and teenagers who are also starting to make the crossing from West Africa.
“As of October 15th, according to the latest official data from the Spanish Ministry of Interior, a staggering 30,400 migrants reached the Canary Islands in 2023 alone, mostly from The Gambia and Senegal.
“Between January to October this year, 18 different boats with a total of 2345 people arrived in different cities in Spain from The Gambia.”
Mr Sonko said the situation is dire as an increasing number of women and minors, including pregnant women, take part in the dangerous voyage to Europe.