Gambia govt to repatriate over 80 irregular Gambian migrants-Director of Diaspora and Migration Directorate Camara

By Binta Senghore

Musa Camara, Director of Diaspora and Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation and Gambian Abroad, has confirmed to The Digest News that plans are ongoing for the repatriation of over eighty (80) Gambian irregular migrants stranded in Niger desert.

Mr. Camara made these remarks while responding to concerns raised by the migrants who are currently kept at refugee camps in Niger.
Prior to the ministry’s respond, The Digest News was reliably informed about the conditions of the migrants in Niger.

Ebrima Dambelleh, one of the stranded migrants, said they are facing numerous challenges at the desert with little food to eat. He said they are housed in UN camps where they await  deportation. “We are deported from Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and other countries. We are really tired and devastated and we want the government to help us return home,” he said.

According to him, 42 Gambian migrants are kept in Arlit camp while other forty (40) migrants are in a different camp. “We arrived in Agadez about two months ago but still we don’t have any support. We don’t have food to eat and place to sleep apart from the sand. Our fellow migrants from other countries are getting support from their people but in our case, it’s different,”

Mr. Dembelleh added that they are living in terrible conditions in Niger, adding that they embarked on the journey to search for greener pastures but life has been extremely difficult for them. He further revealed that they travel for kilometers to get internet for them to communicate to their people back home.
However, Musa Camara, Director of Diaspora and Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation and Gambian Abroad said the Ministry is aware of the stranded Gambians migrants in Niger revealing that plans are underway for their repatriation.

“We are working with the International Organization for Migration to facilitate their return home. As a government we are working on have to identify and confirme those that are Gambians. Sometimes, some migrants claimed to be Gambians when they are not. Some may have committed crimes in their country of origin and they don’t want to return to their countries. So, all these are factors that delays the process,” he explained.
He said IOM is preparing a none-schedule flight to bring the migrants back since they are the UN body responsible for migration issues.

As part of their efforts to identify the actual Gambians, Mr. Camara said they are conducting online interviews with the migrants to confirm their identities, revealing that the migrants will be given emergency travelling certificates that they will use to travel back.
“We are aware and there is a process that has to be follow. We are working on their repatriations with IOM, however it follows a process and there are different countries whose citizens are stranded there,” he added.
Mr. Camara noted that the migrants are taken care of in the camps but noted that it can be different from what they get home.
“They are taken care of, however, it may not be as good as in their home countries. They are under the custody of the UN agencies responsible for migration. They have been registered and the process is ongoing. IOM is providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for them. I know it is an undesirable situation for them but we are doing all we can and we are following the processes required by IOM to repatriate them as early as possible,” he said.
According to statistics, over 40,000 Gambians arrived in Europe by irregular migration between 2014 and 2021. In 2020, net migration rate for Gambia was -1.37 migrants per thousand population.
However the country is facing alarming youth unemployment as it stands at 41.5% according to latest statistics compared to 12.44% in 2019. This is believed to have contributed significantly in the increase rate of irregular migration, especially among youths.

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