By Tabora Bojang
It’s a famous mantra frequently used that “all that glitters is not gold”! This could be the best description of how traffickers allegedly scammed and misled some youths about opportunities and economic outlooks of Qatar.
Over the years, trafficking in persons has been a great concern to the Gambia government especially those allegedly sold to so-called masters in Middle East by traffickers believed to be of Gambian origin.
This report features interviews this medium had with some migrants in Qatar and their experience in the country.
Njundu Drammeh (not his real name) left the Gambia for Qatar with a promise of making hundreds of thousands of Dalasi and other fascinating opportunities by an agent resident in Qatar but allegedly had a conspirator in the Gambia. He said the agent promised him that if he paid one hundred and ten thousand to him, he would provide visa, ticket, standard accommodation and a secure job with an attractive salary where he can recover his expenditure within six months.
“With the economic hardship and desperation for travels, I paid the amount to Abdoulie Jallow and few colleagues with the hope that the venture will uplift us and our families for decent living. The fund mobilization was hard for me due to the nature of my background; yet, I have struggled to make this life-transformative bid a reality” he said.
The Victim added that after all the necessary transactions; they flew to Qatar with the belief that they had parted ways with poverty only for their hopes to be dashed away upon arrival. My friends and I couldn’t see or hear from our agent in Qatar, Momodou Juldeh Barry.
“It’s devastating to say the least as I couldn’t imagine how a Gambian brother could be this callous to his fellow by orchestrating such a criminal and deceitful plan with the aim of scamming and maliciously taking our hard earned currency for a promise that will never be realized” He said
“The promises given to us by our agent dashed away as the only occupation we could find for ourselves was to be a laborer at a construction site. Qatar is currently transforming their country and the most common jobs you can get is to be a laborer for a construction company which attracts a monthly salary of one thousand Riyal supposedly equivalent to fourteen thousand Gambian Dalasi. These salaries aren’t normally paid on time with terrible working conditions. We run out of cash sometimes and at least four people will be sharing a single room” a shocked victim said in a low tone.
Sankung Camara (not his real name) said the amount of salary they earn can’t change their lives neither can they provide enough remittances for families back home. He said he regretted embarking on such a journey as it’s meaningless to him.
A source who spoke to this medium said sthe trafficking in person to Qatar started in 2014 by one Dawda Tunkara.
He said the agents are allegedly trafficking people without following due process as per the Qatar Labor law. The source added that most of the migrants allegedly smuggled to Qatar usually ended up staying without jobs and accommodation.
Bubacar Silver, an alleged agent is said to be wanted by the police after scores of people lodged complaints against him. Also Modou Secka an alleged Senegalese national with a Gambian passport is said to be working with other people with the aim of defrauding and deceiving them on opportunities in Qatar that never exist.
An issue that remains a concern to many Gambians in Qatar is how non-Gambians allegedly obtained the country’s passport. We have been seeing our passport with Senegalese, Guineans, Syrians and other nationalities, who aren’t Gambians but they are with our national document using it for their daily transactions in Qatar.
“The Gambia’s passport is a tissue paper. It seems there isn’t any control over it in the world especially in Qatar, lots of non-Gambians are in possession of it up to date”.
In an interview, Immigration PRO, Mr. Mamading S Dibba, said he isn’t aware of such reports that non-Gambians are obtaining our passports around the world especially in Qatar. “I am not aware of such reports but we don’t look down on any information as it will help us to strengthen our surveillance” PRO Dibba added.
However, sources at the ministry of foreign affairs confirmed seeing a correspondence from Gambian mission in Qatar reporting about the suspect of fraudulent issuance of our passports by immigration officers to Egyptians and Syrians in Qatar.
“There has been a report to that effect concerning non-Gambians possessing our national passport through illegal means” a source said.
“One of our embassies in an Asian country did make such a report expressing concerns over the illegal possession of our national passport by non-Gambians and a suspect in the immigration department was mentioned but not investigated for his alleged role in such a deal.” the source added.
When this reporter turned to the Immigration PRO about the said information, he said he isn’t aware of such report but vowed to find out.
About ten agents’ contact numbers have been shared with this medium, but most of them denied this reporter an interview.
However, the few he has spoken to, all denied their involvement in such a heavily punishable crime in our criminal code.