By Mustapha Jallow
Students of the School of Journalism and Digital Media at the University of The Gambia, were on Thursday educated by a German project called ‘Leeral’ Migration on the topics of illegal and legal migration.
The project aims to raise public awareness within school and other youth, on the dangers and impacts of irregular migration. It also focused to change the mind-set of the students to think critical on issues of irregular migration – as well as offer alternative opportunities, where both students and other young people will travel legally or regularly to Germany or other European countries.
Moctar Kamara, the Project’s Regional Coordinator said: “Our youths deserved better lives in their countries than die this way in the sea.’’ He added: “We have also witnessed a series of death while youths leaving their countries to go to Europe. This is what prompted us to come with this initiative in order to raise awareness over risk and danger of the irregular migration.’’
He told participants they can be successful in their countries, but saying that there are other ways (regular) that they can use without going through irregular routes. He said currently the German population is very old and needs young Africans.
“You have lot of opportunities to go Europe but not irregular ways,’’ said Kamara, who said he had spent 30 years in Germany.
Nana Grey-Johnson, Dean of the School of Journalism and Digital at UTG said the event is an awareness gathering, saying as a school of journalism the student should find-out how they have been able to contribute awareness. Governments, especially government of The Gambia must be an honest broker, he added.
“Our governments are not being honest brokers when it comes to irregular migration,’’ he told the participants. He added: “Governments cannot say dealings with Europe about the irregular issue is a sell-out. We have to examine the European attitudes as well,’’ he explained.
He recommended both the project and local organisation for coming together and collaborating with the Journalism School to ensure the awareness is spread.
Dr. Joy Alemazung, dubbed both as Policy Officer at the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and Analyst at the Global Governance Institute Brussels (Belgium) for the Peace and Security Section presented the topics on irregular and regular migrations.
He described migration as positive and a means of survival but quickly referred to as illegal migration as a bad thing. During his presentation, he asked the students how illegal migration impacts on national development and that students should also look deep about what caused migration.
“So, migration in it is own sense – it’s a positive thing, if it is not illegal. Illegal migration can be the pandemic but migration is not. We migrate so that we can get a better life. People migrate because they need jobs, others for political reasons because they are being caches because they have other opinion and farm dry,’’ he explained.
According to Dr. Alemazung, migration is not negative, urging the students to take the negative mentally away, but also want them to be very conscious that illegality is very bad.
It is very bad and have terrible consequences, he said. He further called on Gambian journalists, including student journalists to transform the message and educate the young people about the dangers of illegal migration, saying it is also causing a lot of damage.
Jerreh Manneh, Senior Project Assistant Communication for Development said Gambia is part of the highest receiving remittances, where migrants in Europe are sending money daily in order to support their families.
“This shows that migration is good but what is bad is that illegal migration. We have to work together and address the irregular migration,’’ Manneh explained.
He further explained factors which lead young people to use the irregular migration are the environmental, economy situation, poverty or education and marriage. He urged listeners to look into satieties items of loss of lives as how many people lost their lives through embarking on this irregular migration as well as the hardship they face.
Mamud Joof, President of the Journalism Students Association, UTG said many individuals migrate out of choice, while many others migrate out of necessity. In 2019, he said the number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million, 51 million more than in 2010.
Joof explained that migration draws increasing attention in the world nowadays. Mixed with elements of foreseeability, emergency, and complexity, the challenges and difficulties of international migration require enhanced cooperation and collective action among countries and regions.
Modou Lamin Joof, a Gambian journalist and Executive Director of ‘Bati Askanwi’ urged Gambian youths to change their mind-set to be able to achieve their goals in the country, saying there are lots of opportunities that they are not looking at.
The project which is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, is organized by the ‘Leeral’ Project in collaboration with a local organization called “Bati Askanwi’’; the School of Journalism of the University of The Gambia with the theme: “The Impact of Irregular Migration on the Contribution of the Youth in National Development
Another speaker, Sanna Camara, a Gambian journalist currently studying journalism at UTG also shared his experiences on illegal migration reporting.