By Alagie Manneh
Young people who have a desire to embark on the perilous ‘back-way’ journey to Europe should realise their “best option” is to “live and work” in The Gambia.
Vice President Dr Isatou Touray said this at a National Coordination Mechanism on Migration (NCM) conference at the Kairaba International Conference Centre yesterday.
The meeting reviewed the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), the first comprehensive framework on migration, and an inter-governmentally negotiated agreement covering all dimensions of international migration.
Addressing representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN systems and other stakeholders, the vice president contended in a statement read on her behalf: “The best option for our youth is to live and work here, in their own country. The government is committed to undertaking all necessary actions to create the enabling environment for adequate job creation. The government also committed to ensuring that our Gambian diaspora communities living abroad find opportunities to invest in their own country and contribute to their country’s development.”
She submitted that the government recognises migration as one of the key tools to ensuring an improvement in the lives of Gambians.
VP Touray said the Barrow government was also “very much aware” of and that it was “very actively” following up on the “dire situation” of our young men and women who are exploited in their attempts to undergo illegal migration.
“At the same time,” she continues, “this so-called ‘back-way’ syndrome has caused and continues to cause significant human and social cost to the country with many of our youths facing countless violations, abuse and psychological stress”.
According to her, the Barrow-led administration is now “very pleased” that these concerns are being reflected in the GCM objectives.
“The government also recognises the challenges faced by returning migrants who most often are affected by negative perceptions and stereotypes about returning home without realising their European dreams,” the erstwhile executive director of Gamcotrap, stated.
The Gambia is primarily a country of outmigration. Current estimates revealed 140,000 Gambians abroad, which constitutes approximately 7 per cent of the country’s population of two million, according to the IOM.
Fumiko Nagano, IOM Gambia chief of mission, told a gathering that “with strong leadership, the government of The Gambia has been quick to use the GCM objectives as a framework to better manage migration in the country,” Nagano said.