Monday, December 4

Activist Lambasts Authorities Over Back-way Tragedy

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By: NyimaSillah

Migration and human rights activist based in Germany, YahyaSonko, has lambasted migration authorities over a recent back-way tragedy that claimed over 20 young lives in Bakau.

“The Gambia Government is making very little or no effort about it. As usual, they will wait till another tragedy happens before they react,’’ he said. 

Mr. Sonko made the criticisms during an exclusive interview with the Voice Newspaper. 

“The Gambia is a very small country. We all know that boat trips are organized in our communities. Where are the SIS, immigration department, and navy? Why can’t they track the smugglers and organizers of these boat trips,” he asked.

The migration activist pointed out that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is organizing series of capacity building training and workshops for immigration department with regards to irregular migration, emphasizing that the knowledge gain in those training should be invested to help tackle irregular migration in The Gambia.

“The Gambia Interior Minister should call for an emergency meeting to put our security heads accountable, they can stop most of these boats if more efficient efforts are made. I am advising the President to call for a national dialogue, to have a hard talk about migration,” Sonko asserted.

He explains that the trips are organized in the villages and within the communities, adding that all village Alkalos (head), VDC heads, Chiefs and governors, can help police in sharing vital information with regards to boat trip organizers.

Going back to the tragedy, Sonko opined that the current migration crisis in the Canary Islands is on the verge of surpassing the largest influx of immigrant boats in 2006, with over 30,000 survivors arriving on the shores so far this year, with notably more women and teenagers starting to make the crossing from West Africa than ever before.

Referencing the Spanish data, Sonko said according to the latest official data from the Spanish Ministry of Interior, a staggering 30,400 migrants have reached the Canary Islands in 2023, mostly from the two neighbors The Gambia and Senegal. Between January to October this year, 18 different boats with a total of 2345 people arrived in different cities in Spain from The Gambia. 

“What makes it even worse for the Gambia is that more women and minors are joining these dangerous boats to Spain. In some cases even pregnant women,” he stressed.