Immigration Department Records 26 Interceptions for ‘Backway’ Migrants in 2023

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By Aja Musu Bah

Inspector Alkali Jammeh working under the migration management unit of The Gambia Immigration Department (GD) said GID’s anti-smuggling of migrants operations in The Gambia has so far intercepted 26 departures on irregular migration in 2023.

Inspector Jammeh stated this during a stakeholders’ dialogue with the Deputy Governor of Kerewan Administrative Area and immigration officials. The dialogue was organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in partnership with The Gambia Cyber Security Alliance (GCSA) and the University of Gambia Law Students Association held on Tuesday 12 December, 2023. 

Inspector Jammeh said the records show that in 2023 alone, the immigration department had arrested and prosecuted 33 migrant smugglers in 8 separate cases. He added that 2 smugglers are also being prepared for prosecution. 

“These cases are handled using the standard operating procedures (SOP) for handling smuggling of migrant cases in the Gambia.  This is a tool which is intended to facilitate the handling of smuggling of migrants (SOM) cases in the Gambia in a consistent and human rights compliant manner,” he said.

He stated that with support from relevant stakeholders like International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Gambia Immigration Department has facilitated the return of 523 migrants including 25 females to The Gambia. 

“The majority of these returnees came from Morroco, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Senegal. Morroco consists of highest migrants of 129 followed by Libya with 96,” Inspector Jammeh confirmed.

He told the gathering that the smugglers use old boats with only one machine, one compass for direction and a few jackets. He said this leads to loss of lives. He said during the journey, some of the victims end up being dehydrated because of lack of food and water, and they also undergo trauma. In some cases, he said the migrants get beaten to death or suffer sexual exploitation.

Inspector Jammeh urged Gambian youths to travel using the legal ways, saying it is safer. He said the smuggling of migrants is a threat to national security.