By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Ebrima Drammeh, a Gambian Migrant Rights Activist and member of the Migrant Rescue Watch Association (MRWA) has claimed that his organisation has recorded names of ninety-five (95) Gambian Migrants who died in different countries through the ‘BackWay’ journey to Europe.
He made this disclosure in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, with this reporter saying the government’s lack of providing jobs to the teeming youthful population is responsible for the whooping number of dead among the Gambian migrants.
According to him, a staggering number of nine hundred (900) Gambians were also deported back to the Gambia in 2022. He disclosed that his organisation has recorded also five hundred and ninety-nine (599) Gambians who have entered Europe through the backway.
“It is very unfortunate that 2022 has been a very sad year for my organization as far as the situation of migrants is concerned. We have recorded names of ninety-five (95) Gambians who died through the backway journey to Europe,” Ebrima Drammeh, Migrants Rights Activist in Malta and member of Migrant Rescue Watch Association (MRWA) stated.
He added: “We recorded the death of twenty-two (22) Gambians in Libya, two (2) death in Algeria, thirty (30) people died in the sea from Libya to Italy, one person in Niger, thirteen (13) Gambians died from Mauritania to Spain. We also recorded the deaths of fifteen (15) Gambian migrants from Senegal to Spain, twelve (12) Gambians from Morocco to Spain, one Gambian migrant died in a fire incident in Foggia, one Gambian also died in a fire incident in Helva, plus one death in Morocco-Spain border where three more Gambians got wounded.”
According to him, during the year ended 2022, four hundred and fifty-six (456) Gambians were repatriated from Libya to Gambian, two hundred and forty-three (243) Gambian migrants were deported from Algeria to Niger, seventy-three (73) migrants were repatriated from Niger to the Gambia, adding that similar figures were also recorded in European Countries where ninety-three (93) Gambians were deported while Morocco deported forty-two (42) Gambian migrants.
He continued that one hundred and twenty (120) Gambian migrants entered Spain through Mauritania, forty-two (42) through Senegal to Spain, and one hundred and thirty-nine (139) Gambian migrants entered Spain through Morocco, while two hundred and ninety (290) Gambian migrants entered Spain through Libya.
He revealed further that the Migrants Rescue Watch Association has also documented three (3) Gambians in Italy and one in Malta who got mad, noting that the whereabouts of nine (9) Gambian migrants remain unknown to both the MRWA and their families.
“For me, I think Gambia Government has to do more if it is serious about addressing the issue of youth migration. Looking at the number of Gambian youths dying through the backway, it is because of the government’s inability to provide jobs to the youths,” Drammeh claimed.
He added: “Obviously, the number of Gambians maybe be far more than ninety-five (95) as we are still working very hard to compile all the cases of migrants living in Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Spain, Italy. We are also compiling the situation of Gambians in European countries including German, Spain, Italy, and Malta but so far these are the figures we gathered.”
He emphasized that most of the deaths recorded are mainly due to poor health and lack of good nutrition, tortures and ill-treatment meted out to them, long detentions, depression, and psychological traumas.
However, he suggested, the only way out is for government to provide jobs to the youths, develop their skills to let them become self-reliant, and provision of seed monies for youth entrepreneurs.