Banjul, 24th April 2020: Madam Speaker, following the invitation by the Human Rights Committee to shed more light on the maltreatment of Africans in Guangzhou, China, you requested for an update on the matter and further requested data on the current situation of Gambians abroad given the current situation of the global pandemic of COVID-19. As you may be aware, the Welfare of Gambians abroad is a core mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pursuant to the above, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia through its Missions have thus far collected and collated data which will be handed over to the COVID-19 taskforce as the budgetary allocation for the welfare of Gambians is insufficient and as such, restrains our missions to effectively and efficiently execute their duties in addressing the welfare of the Gambians in trying times, particularly the current situation of COVID-19.
However most of our Embassies/High Commissions have been working closely with the Gambians in the Diaspora by engaging them, encouraging them to register with our Missions, providing consular support, as well as supporting them in any way possible based on the availability of resources.
UPDATE ON THE CONDITION OF GAMBIAN NATIONALS IN GUANGZHOU
A total of eleven (11) Gambians were quarantined and I am pleased to report that as of yesterday 20th April 2020 they all have been released from the mandatory quarantine after having tested negative for COVID-19.
In addition, all the Gambian students in China including the students in Wuhan have all resumed online classes since 17th February 2020.
There have been over 1,500 Gambians registered in our High Commission in London, 130 in India, 29 in Bangladesh, over 40, 000 in Spain, 70,000 in Italy, 800 in Greece, more than 300 in Malta, over 210 in Saudi Arabia, 25 in Senegal, 28 in Bissau, 4 in Cabo Verde, 40 in Nigeria, 129 in Morocco, 25 in Kenya, & 38 in Uganda.
Madam Speaker as a result of the intensity and rapidity of the spread of COVID 19, my Ministry is currently engaging our Mission in Washington to appeal to the US authorities based on humanitarian grounds for Gambian Nationals who are under the custody of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) of the United States of America to be temporarily released until such time the threat of COVID-19 has been substantially reduced.
Our Mission in Washington has also designated Honorary Consul in States that have significant amount of Gambians in the U.S to serve as liaison between the communities and the Embassy. However, we wish to regrettably inform you that two adult female Gambians succumbed to the Covid-19 in USA.
In North Carolina few Gambians caught the virus but certainly with mild symptoms and have fully recovered.In New York, the number of affected Gambians is not yet established but the confirmed victims either fully recovered or are recovering well.
Our communities in Canada and Brazil have also been contacted and we are informed that no Gambian so far has been infected or killed by the virus.
Even though our mission lacks the necessary funds to provide support to the affected Gambians, our Mission is the Washington is currently providing both moral and advisory support as required.
Following series of consultations between our Embassy in Beijing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Gambian Nationals in Guangzhou, and given the current situation facing African Migrants in China, Madam Speaker allow me to give an update on the current situation of Gambians as it pertains to COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Mr… a Gambian Businessman in Guangzhou who was on quarantine in his residence at Tao Jin hotel has been released from isolation on Wednesday 15th April 2020. His test result came out negative.
2. Mr… and his wife, Mrs…: a Gambian student in Guangzhou and his wife (4 weeks pregnant) who were ordered by the police through their landlord to leave their apartment for a hotel to be quarantined for 14 days on 9th April 2020, have been granted approval to leave the hotel and go back to their apartment for home observation following the results of their nucleic acid test which came out negative. However, Mr.… and his wife wish to stay in the hotel to complete the remaining days of quarantine. They are expected to complete their quarantine in the hotel on Thursday 23rd April 2020.
3. Mr…: a Gambian student in Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai Campus, Guangdong Province who was locked up in his dormitory room on 11th April 2020, has been informed by his school authorities on Thursday 6th April 2020 that he can now freely go out of his dormitory room, if he wants. However, Mr… wishes to stay in his dormitory room to complete the remaining days of quarantine. He is provided with 3 meals per day and he is expected to complete his quarantine on Friday 24th April 2020.
4. Mr…: a Gambian student who is on quarantine in his apartment, informed that he is yet to receive his test results which were conducted on 31st March and 6th April 2020/ he was informed by the Chinese authorities that he would be contacted if his test results are positive, but they have not yet contacted him. He is doing fine in his room in Xiaobei area in Guangxhou. He is expected to complete his quarantine at home on Thursday 23rd April 2020.
5. Mr…: A Gambian student who was asked to leave his apartment to go to Nomo hotel for 14 days quarantine informed that he not paying for the hotel accommodation. He is served with 3 meals per day and he is undergoing daily body temperature check in his room. However, he is yet to receive his test results conducted on 7th and 14th April 2020. He was also informed by the Chinese authorities that he would be contacted if his test results are positive, but they have not yet contacted him. He further indicated that he is not experiencing much difficulty apart from movement restrictions. He is expected to complete his quarantine in the hotel on Monday 20 April 2020.
6. On Wednesday 15th April 2020, our Embassy received a telephone call from Mr…, a Gambian Businessman who informed that 5 Gambians including himself in Xintang town, Guangzhou city have been released from isolation in their apartments. The names of the other Gambians are: Mr… (Businessman), Mr…. (student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies), Mr… (Businessman) and his wife Mrs…
Madam Speaker, it is also worth noting that we have Gambians stranded in various countries that have been brought to our attention, 23 in Senegal including 7 children, 10 in Mali, 3 in Malaysia, 4 in London, and 6 in Nigeria.
My Ministry is working very closely with all concerned authorities particularly the COVID-19 Task Force which has the mandate to lead and manage COVID-19 issues in the country. Post Covid-19, my Ministry through our Missions will do an assessment of the prevailing situation and submit proposal to the Covid-19 Task Force.
Issued by the Communication Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad