By MUHAMMED S. BAH
72 intending irregular migrants on a local fishing boat, were yesterday rescued along the coastline of Guinea Bissau, by a South American ship from Panama that was heading to Ivory Coast.
39 of the rescued irregular migrants are all Gambians and the remainder Senegalese. All would-be migrants are mainly in their youthful ages.
These migrants are said to be heading to Spain from Senegal but missed their way. According to some of their testimonies, they got lost at sea for about a week, and were finding their way in the middle of nowhere.
When contacted to shed light on this story by this reporter, the Liaison Officer of the Spanish Embassy, Antonio Navarro, said he was also contacted by the Captain of the South American Ship who saw the boat with the passengers of irregular migrants, meandering at sea; that upon receiving the information from the Captain on the night of Saturday, September 22, he immediately alerted the Gambia Immigration Department (GID); that together with the Gambia Navy (GN), the GID facilitated the rescue of the would-be migrants and brought them back.
Navarro said the GN deployed two boats to bring the migrants to port in Banjul, on Sunday evening, and this was witnessed by officials of GAF, GID, GFRS, Red Cross and the NDMA.
When contacted, Immigration Spokesperson Superintendent Mamanding S Dibba, confirmed that they were contacted by the Spanish Liaison Officer; that they afterwards contacted the GN for further assistance to facilitate the would-be migrants rescue.
“I can confirm their number as 72. However we have to scrutinise further, to ascertain ascertain the number of Senegalese and Gambians on board,” Dibba said; that his department is not stopping anyone from migrating to another country, but advised people to use safer ways.
Dibba said the would-be migrants will be taken to the Center in Tanji and those Gambians among them, will be handed over to their families, whilst the Senegalese will be handed over to their Embassy Authorities in the country, for repatriation.
On his part the GAF Spokesperson said this is the Second time in 2018, they were venturing in rescuing migrants from the sea, in collaboration with the Navy and the GID.
He said rescue efforts of this nature, requires resources and thanked the International Organization for Migration, IOM, for their support.
Bakary Fofana a 22 year old, who was part of the would-be migrants from Niumi, said he was not forced by any means to migrate; that he just feels like going to Europe. “I will advised people not to ever venture into this Journey, now that I know the risks involved,” he said.
A sixteen year old School going Gambian who was also part of the would-be migrants, said: “I want to go back.”
He said he paid about D40, 000 to go on this journey; that part of the money was sponsored by one his brothers in Spain. “I want to go because most of my friends who left before me, are now in Europe,” he said; that he can make money in Europe, than in the country.