Minister Sillah Explains Situation of 36 Gambians Stranded in Lebanon As they set to land in Dakar in the weekend

Ebrima Sillah, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure

By Momodou Jarju

The Minister of Information Communication and Infrastructure, Ebrima Sillah, has shad light on the current situation of dozen of Gambian women who are stranded in Lebanon and are due to be repatriated.

In a telephone interview, Minister Sillah said he received information that the returnees are expected to land in Dakar, Senegal in the weekend.

The minister’s remarks came after Swedish based Gambian activist, Lovette Jallow, founder of Action for Humanity (AH) – a non-profit organization, disclosed that she will pay the cost of tickets for the stranded Gambian women in Lebanon to be repatriated.

The ministry of foreign affairs denied collaborating with Madam Jallow to see through the repatriation of the stranded Gambians, according to local report.

But Minister Sillah said the issue of collaborating is not important, but the status of the Gambian women is.

He said he is aware that Lovette Jallow had purchased tickets and he heard that Madam Jallow said the 36 stranded Gambians in Lebanon are due to arrive in the country in the coming weekend.

Thus, he commended Lovette Jallow for her efforts considering the current Covid-19 situation in the country.

“We welcome anybody supporting government outside in any way possible,” Minister Sillah added.

Madam Jallow is said to have spent about three million Gambian dalasi on the tickets of the women returnees, including their passage to The Gambia when they reach Senegal among others.

Government’s Role Explained

Sillah said they started a process for the repatriation of the Gambian women who are stranded in Lebanon, saying some of them were trafficked and some of them, their travel documents were confiscated.

Thus, he said they made engagements with the relevant authorities in Lebanon to facilitate the release of the confiscated documents of the women.

He further said the government was in direct negotiation with authorizes in Lebanon because, also, according to the laws of that country (Lebanon), if someone overstays in their country, the person must serve one month jail term.

“We negotiated and they were able to release them,” Sillah said.

Nonetheless, Minister Sillah explained that these kinds of matters need state to state negotiations, which is more effective.

Sillah said another problem that they had to address was the issue of Emergency Travelling Certificates for the stranded Gambians.

The emergency travelling certificate allows for direct flight- which would be direct flight from Lebanon to The Gambia which is non-existent at the moment. It is only via Senegal which is possible.

The Information Minister said the ministry of foreign affairs negotiated with authorities in Senegal about the situation and they have allowed the returnees to land in their country.

He remarked: “The foreign affairs ministry had negotiated with the Senegalese officials to allow them to land there.”

He added Lovette Jallow had made arrangement for the women to be transported via bus into the Gambian border.

Sillah said the purchase of tickets is the last thing to do. First, he said they have to ensure the women have their travelling certificates, some of whom don’t have visas.