By Mustapha Jallow
Mamadi Jambang, the imam of Batokunku, on Wednesday told Foroyaa that over one hundred Senegalese nationals, who sought refuge in his village after a violent mob in Sanyang attacked them, have secretly left their place of sanctuary for their homes without the knowledge of authorities.
These displaced persons fled their homes after violence erupted in Sanyany, amid a riot that saw an angry mob burned-down a police station and the Nessim Fishmeal Company. This happened on 15th March 2021, after a native of the area was stabbed to death by a Senegalese national.
The imam, who was providing accommodation for female displaced persons, expressed his disappointment over the recent development.
Imam Jambang said only one married woman, her husband their children chose to stay in Batokunku and wait for authorities’ approval for them to return to Sanyang. He said the rest left with their children.
The imam explained that the displaced Senegalese discreetly returned to Sanyang during the night.
“After sheltering them here in Batokunku, none of these female displaced persons came to inform me about their decision to return to Sanyang,’’ he said.
Jambang advised the remaining displaced persons to stay and wait for order or approval from the authorities for their own security and safety, saying all of them are still under state protection that is why they were provided with security.
According to the imam, most of the displaced persons who left for Sanyang usually return to Batokunku in the morning for their meals and then go back to Sanyang again.
This reporter observed that not a single displaced person was at the Imam’s compound contrary to his previous visit when he noticed that the place was overcrowded. Only one female was seen at the place and the imam confirmed to this reporter that she was the only person remaining there.
A large military tent was seen in the imam’s home, where most of the female displaced persons used to spend the night.
This reporter attempted to speak to the menfolk, but this was unsuccessful. Senior officers who were guarding the building told the reporter that they needed clearance from their superiors in order to allow him to have access to the displaced persons.
However, a senior security-man who pleaded for anonymity, said majority of the displaced persons returned to Sanyany without the knowledge of the authorities, saying when Sanyang was a ‘no go area’ for them, the government ensured they were provided with security.
The officer alleged that an amount of D2 million was disposed to the displaced persons few weeks ago by the Senegalese Fisheries Minister, who was on a mission to Gambia. The officer explained that when the displaced persons shared the money among themselves, they started leaving Batokunku for their homes in Sanyang.
According to the officer, most of the female displaced persons left Batakunku after receiving their share.
The officer further said the rest decided to stay in Batokunku and wait for the authorities to give them green-light to return to Sanyang. A team of Red Cross officers were on the ground to give medical assistance to the displaced persons who felt sick.
Meanwhile, Jerreh Jatta, the Alkalo of Batokunku, said the Gambia Armed Forces have responded to their call by providing them with two big tents and that the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) was providing them with food stuff and so on.
Paramilitary officers who were on duty at the site asked the Alkalo to stop talking to the reporter.