By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Honourable Seyaka Sonko, Minister of Interior has officially launched the $2.35million Migration Multi-Partner Fund that seeks to address challenges of security, safety, and prosperity in a novel approach through interlinked interventions.
The Joint Programme is led by the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Ministry of Trade, International Trade Center (ITC), International Organisation of Migration (IOM), UNDP, and UNICEF.
The programme focused on the Trans-Gambia transport corridors will empower women and youth from these communities to navigate borders safely, enhance knowledge and safeguard their rights.
Delivering his launching statement Minister of Interior, Seyaka Sonko said while the Trans-Gambia Bridge creates economic opportunities, reduced transit times as well as the number of people transiting it also leads to increased vulnerabilities, especially for women and youths in the border communities along the route. He added that it also brought along significant challenges due to migration and labour mobility.
“Given that The Gambia is a country of transit and destination for an increasing number of migrants, there is a need for improved capacity to manage borders to meet their critical and growing needs, particularly in the face of our limited capacity for national security surveillance. Similarly, considering the combination of activities happening along the Trans-Gambia transport corridors,” Interior Minister highlighted.
He added: “It is clear that there is a dire need to strengthen the human and operational capacity of the borders in order to help curb organised criminal activities such as smuggling and trafficking in persons as well as ensuring the protection of vulnerable migrants.”
Interior Minister observed that the Multi-Partner Migration Programme Trust Fund (MPTF) project will go a long way to help address the push factors of migration, create alternative livelihoods and opportunities for communities as well as strengthen the capacity of various institutions along the border while assuring the unflinching support of the Government of The Gambia in ensuring the successful implementation of the project.
Seraphine Wakana, United Nations Resident Coordinator, The Gambia commended the government, Ministry of Interior, and Trade for their continuous support, close coordination, and engagement during the design of the M-MPTF project, adding that these acts demonstrate government commitment to creating cross-border cooperation, migration, and development.
The UN Resident Coordinator further disclosed that the M-MPTF Joint Programme will benefit cross-border traders especially female informal cross-border traders, irregular migrants, border authorities, women, and youth from selected Gambian communities along the Trans-Gambia Transport Corridors in Jarra West and Upper Baddibu.
Adding the project will also benefit unaccompanied and separated children, persons at risk of human trafficking, and or subjected to negative impacts of transnational criminal networks as well as civil society networks/organisations.