By Nelson Manneh
The Director of Migration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Musa Camara, said more than 100 Gambian migrants were intercepted at sea and are now placed under detention in Tripoli.
Camara made this and other statements on Friday 16th December 2022, during the Commemoration of International Migrants’ Day (IMD).
“Four weeks ago, I visited over 218 Gambian migrants at a detention centre in Tripoli under devastating conditions, and 14 minors and 160 elders are already granted exit visas for their voluntary return home,” he said.
Mr Camara said two weeks ago again, about 20 km from Noaudhibou in Mauritania, Pa Malick, Manding Saidykhan and himself with a delegation of a Consular Mission courtesy of IOM, stood by the graves of 85 young Gambian migrants whose boat capsized in the waters of Mauritania in 2019; that he also boarded a flight with five Gambian migrants who will be returning in batches of five from Casablanca; that these people were among thirty-seven migrants whose boat was lost at sea and later intercepted by the Moroccan coast guards. That twelve of their colleagues died at sea due to lack of food and water.
Mr. Camara said many people associate migrants with young men taking irregular migration routes to look for better economic opportunities abroad.
He said across the world, migrants are nurses, international students, lawyers, refugees, athletes, artists, and doctors, but they are also our neighbours, best friends, and at one point in many people’s lives, migrants have significantly contributed to their countries of destination, transit and origin.
Mr Camara said this year’s IMD commemoration aims to humanize mobility to contribute to social cohesion and reduce negative perceptions about migrants by reviving the: ‘I am a migrant’ slogan campaign on a global scale.
“This year’s IMD commemoration provides a platform for migrants to share their stories, and to use this vehicle to educate audiences about migration, its language and ultimately roles of relevant local actors in the field of migration,” he noted.
Fumiko Nagano, IOM Chief of Mission in the Gambia, said IMD is an occasion to reflect on and appreciate the significant contribution of migrants and migration towards the improvement and strengthening of our communities and societies.
“In conceptualizing this year’s IMD, our goal was to humanize mobility and highlight the power of migrants and mobile populations’ contribution to development and social cohesion. By putting migrants in the center, creating a space for their voices to be heard and making their stories and experiences relatable, we hope to reduce the negative perceptions and stereotypes about migrants, while at the same time, improve our collective understanding and appreciation for migration and its benefits,” she said.
The IOM Chief of Mission in the Gambia said across the world, migrants are just like any of us, who are our family members, our neighbours, our friends. Some of us, he said are migrants without knowing so, after having moved within our country’s borders, from one city to another.
“In The Gambia, some migrants are activists fighting for freedom of expression and human rights, immigration officers working to secure borders, returnees advocating against irregular migration, nurses working to mainstream mental health and psychosocial support services, champions of sustainable tourism preserving Gambian culture, entrepreneurs creating jobs for young people, and development and humanitarian workers fighting for a better tomorrow,” she said.
She added that the journeys have profound impacts, not only on their own lives, but also and equally importantly, on the lives of others.
“Around us, you will find stories of migrants from all walks of life, who have overcome great odds, made significant contributions to Gambian society and also overseas, and serve as an inspiration to us all,” she said.