By: Kebba AF Touray
The Commissioner of the Gambia Commission for Refugees (GCR) Famara Fadera, has told members of the legislative committee on refugees that the Gambia currently has a total of 4, 425 recognized refugees.
Commissioner Fadera made this disclosure on Thursday 13th January 2022, during the visit of the legislative committee’s visit to his office.
“Total number of asylum seekers stands at 211 and of this number, 86 are females, whilst 126 are males. Of the 4, 425 recognized refugees, 2, 367 are females and 2, 269 are males”, Commissioner Fadera informed the legislative committee.
Fadera who also doubles as the Assistant Commissioner of the Gambia Immigration Department, told the lawmakers that the Commission has issued a total of 94 birth certificates to refugees comprising 58 males and 36 females; that the Commission has embarked on series of activities such as sensitization campaigns, with the objective of promoting peaceful coexisting with local Government authorities, for the inclusion of refugees in their development plans and other relevant decision making structures; that the Commission has also conducted and is monitoring eight selected refugee settlement, and a day long training for 40 border officials for the identification and referral of asylum seekers on two separate occasions.
“These activities aim to ensure that asylum seekers access the territorial boundaries and respect the principle of non refoulement, non-discrimination and non-penalization for illegal entry. It also aims to increase the awareness on the rights and obligations, procedures and processes of naturalization for refugees opting for local integration”, he said. He however averred that the Commission in collaboration with the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA), sensitized refugees on their rights to access to legal services and local integration procedures and processes of naturalization; that this is to reduce refugee children from being stateless and for them to have access to the United Nation High Commission for Refugee funded projects and to promote peaceful coexistence.
He highlighted the development of the national action plan on statelessness, participation in the drafting of protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (right to nationality and eradication of statelessness) and facilitation of acquisition for a refugee (name withheld), as some of the activities his Commission has accomplished.
He told the lawmakers that the significant cut on their budget has greatly impacted on the execution of the activities of the Commission, and that the lack of domestication of the 1954 and 1961 UN Conventions within the Gambian nationality laws, are some the primary challenges confronting his Commission.
While hailing the legislative committee for the visit, he appealed to them to ensure the domestication of the 1954 and 1961 UN Convention in the laws of the Gambia.
Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North, who is also the Chairperson of the said legislative committee, told officials of the GCR that the oversight is a constitutional mandate of the legislative committee, through such visits to line institutions to ascertain their level of the execution of operations, identify the challenges affecting them and collectively develop and proffer mechanisms, in order to provide remedies to these challenges.