By Momodou Jarju
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, has disclosed to the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters of the National Assembly that they are engaging the United States government through its Mission in Washington for Gambians detained in US jails to be temporarily released amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Momodou Tangara, speaking before the members of the aforesaid committee on Tuesday said: “Madam speaker as a result of the intensity and rapidity of the spread of COVID-19, my Ministry is currently engaging our Mission in Washington to appeal to the US authorities based on humanitarian grounds for Gambian Nationals who are under the custody of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) of the United States of America to be temporarily released until such time the threat of COVID-19 has been substantially reduced.”
Dr. Tangara told the members two adult female Gambians succumbed to Covid-19 in USA. The development, he said, is regrettable. He also said few Gambians in North Carolina who caught the virus with mild symptoms have fully recovered.
“In New York, the number of affected Gambians is not yet established, but the confirmed victims either fully recovered or are recovering well. Our communities in Canada and Brazil have also been contacted and we are informed that no Gambian so far has been infected or killed by the virus,” the minister said.
Dr. Tangara said The Gambia’s Mission in Washington is currently providing both moral and advisory support as required by the affected Gambians despite their lack of necessary funds.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Committee invited foreign affairs ministry to shed light on the maltreatment meted out to Africans in Guangzhou, China as well as give data on Gambians abroad in tandem with the current situation of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking further, Minister Tangara informed the members that a total of eleven (11) Gambians were quarantined. He said all of them have been released from mandatory quarantine, as of 20th April, 2020, after having tested negative for COVID-19. He further said all the Gambian students in China including those in Wuhan have resumed online classes since February 2020.
Also, Dr. Tangara said there are Gambians stranded in various countries that have been brought to the attention of his ministry, they are; 23 in Senegal including 7 children, 10 in Mali, 3 in Malaysia, 4 in London, and 6 in Nigeria.
He informed the members that his Ministry is working closely with all concerned authorities, particularly the Covid-19 Task Force which has the mandate to lead and manage COVID-19 issues in the country.
On Gambians abroad, the minister said: “There have been over 1,500 Gambians in our high commission in London; 130 in India; 29 in Bangladesh; over 40,000 in Spain; 70,000 in Italy; 800 in Greece; more than 300 in Malta; over 210 in Saudi Arabia; 25 in Senegal; 28 in Bissau; 4 in Cape Verde; 40 in Nigeria; 129 in Morocco; 25 in Kenya; and 38 in Uganda.”