By Ndey Sowe
West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) Thursday, June 30, 2022 held a roundtable aimed at providing quality and relevant information for potential migrants to make informed decisions.
The event was held at the African Princess Hotel in Senegambia.
The roundtable was part of activities under the project “Let’s Talk Migration”, a WADR project with support from the German Federal Foreign Office. The project which has been ongoing since 2018 focuses on providing quality and relevant information for informed decisions on irregular migration in West Africa and covers 8 countries, including The Gambia.
This is the end of the fourth phase of the aforementioned project. The roundtable is being organised across some of the countries they have worked in overtime.
Agnes Thomasi, WADR Station Manager, said the day is another milestone in the history of WADR as they round up their project on migration that started in 2018 with the training of journalists from their partner radio stations and the production and dissemination of quality and relevant information in 8 countries in West Africa.
Ms Thomasi added that WADR is a sub-regional radio station based in Dakar, Senegal and was established in 2005 as a project of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to other things protect and defend the ideals of democracy and open societies by disseminating development information through a network of community radios in the West African sub-region.
Manding Saidykhan, Principal Assistant Secretary (PAS) at the Ministry of Interior, commented WADR for convening the discussion and hoped it will be a thought-provoking moment where participants will reflect their minds onto their brother and sisters who happened to be victims of the perilous journey called “backway”.
“The use of this irregular pathway (Backway) on irregular migratory routes as some would call it has caused lots of tragedies including shipwreck and various forms of maltreatment meted on migrants that led to death, serious health complication and deformity,” he remarked.
Muhammed S Bah, President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), urged the German Federal Office to extend the project for another five year.
“Migration is a huge challenge in West Africa and our continent at large, such as trafficking, irregular migration among others,” he said.
The media as the fourth estate has a great role to play in ensuring that issues around migration are known to the public, particularly duty bearers who have the greater responsibility towards creating the enabling environment for young people to engage in productive ventures and live a dignified life.
The roundtable also provided the opportunity for stakeholders to present on various topics in relation to migration issues in West Africa and The Gambia in particular, ranging from migration and human rights, migration in West Africa (patterns, issues, challenges and interventions), the risk of irregular migration and migrant smuggling, testimonies of migrant returnees, what solutions, women trafficking and migration, and the present economic opportunities for young people and opportunities of voluntary return and reintegration programs.