Speaking at an orientation ceremony of ‘Operation No Back Way to Europe’ in Brikama yesterday, Jabbie who once attempted the journey himself, noted: “My organisation has been here for seven years and we are operating nationwide. This occasion is as a result of our efforts in curbing illegal migration as it is killing our youths. We are losing our young boys and girls and in order for us to keep them here we have to tell them what is happening there and we are doing that through sensitisation campaigns. If you tell the youths to stay here they ask for a reason to do so. What we are doing here today is providing some of those answers as we are witnessing the orientation ceremony of some of our members who are going to the Gambia Technical Training Institute with bursary provided from the Ecowas-Spanish Migration Development Fund.
“We have collaborated with the Immigration department and other stakeholders in trying to see what we can do for the youths to stay here in this country because we want them to stay here and develop. We would like to commend President Jammeh because he has been supporting us since 2006. He provided us with a vehicle.
“We need something for the youths to stay inside this country and that is why we initiated projects, one of which is the motor-bike cabbage collection training, which lasts six week. We have engaged a handful of other youths who are now in different institutes of learning, for example, at Insight Training. I am proud to say that we are doing our best to make sure the youths of this country are engaged in something meaningful,” he said.
In his remarks, the representative of the Gambia Immigration Department, ASP Malafi Jammeh said: “If you want to travel out to Europe, you go through legal routes. We immigration officers do not allow anybody to enter The Gambia who do not meet our immigration requirements. You must have valid documents before entering The Gambia. The same goes for Europe. We are coordinating a project; the Ecowas-Spain Migration and Development Programme. In September, we went nation-wide sensitising our youths and our parents and stakeholders on the danger of illegal migration. Illegal migration is causing a lot of havoc in our community, our properties and life. As government institutions and as a government, it is our responsibility to protect the lives and properties of our citizens. There is no government that wants to see the properties and lives of her citizens perish in the wild sea and in the desert. Use legal routes to go to Europe and look for greener pastures. We are fighting every day to reduce the trend of this illegal migration but our parents are the problems; all the money given to these youths comes from our parents. They encouraged the youths to go through illegal migration.”
Muhammad Kalifa Singhateh from the North Bank Region made efforts to travel to Lampedusa, Italy, said: “During my journey to Lampeudeusa it was very hard. My first journey was from Dakar to Morocco then I was sent back to the Spanish Sahara. I suffered a lot and I was dumped in the desert by some armed men together with five other travellers. One old man came around the desert with his vehicle and he was the one who rescued us and took us to Mali. From Mali I came back to The Gambia. After two weeks, I went to Agadesh, Algeria, then back to Libya where we were told it was easy to get to Lampeudeusa. But I did not find it easy and I was captured by rebels. They said I was from sub-Saharan Africa and that I am one of those who backed Gaddafi. I suffered a lot before they realised that I was not who they thought I was.”
By Alagie Manneh