Gambia Gold Award Holders Association (GAHA) in partnership with the National
Youth Council (NYC) and DW-TV of Germany Monday organised a dialogue forum on
youth irregular migration, held at the NYC building in Kanifing South.
The forum was part of annual activities to curb youth migration through the “Backway”, and aimed at complementing the efforts of the NYC in its endeavours to curb youth irregular migration.
The event brought together over 30 young people, and created a space for discussions as the trend of migration through the Mediterranean, which is on the increase day-by-day.
Speaking at the event was the National chairperson of GAHA, Baboucarr Kebbeh, who stated the role of the association as a civil society organization in curbing youth irregular migration.
He added that the need for civil society to continue the sensitisation on the dangers of migration; unveiling the experience encountered by returnees to be vividly explained to stakeholders.
He said the psychologically aspect caused at the household level had triggered a good number of youths leading to the journey.
The guest speaker, Alagie Jarju, Programme Manager at NYC, gave a run-down of actions that the NYC had taken in its quest to address youth irregular migration.
They have conducted several sensitization programmes across the regions, together with IOM and had three major projects on migration.
He explained that understanding some of the reasons youths claimed for embarking on this journey is unemployment.
They have provided them with a 17-meter fishing boat with full set gears for 10 returnees, who said they were interested in fishing.
Another group was provided with tailoring machines and a full package including rental cost with electricity, and the third group was provided with refrigerator and a motor vehicle for fish selling and distribution across the country.
According to Mr Jarju, the most disheartening situation is that some girls are also joining the trend recently, and the stories are heart-breaking.
Despite the meager resources, he said, the trend of the migration is still on the increase, adding that they are currently working on another 12 projects on youth migration targeting youths at risk, returnees and other stakeholders, come 2017.
The girls who are embarking on this journey encounter heavy sexual and human rights abuse, while on this journey, he added.
He narrated that because they are told the situational stresses of the journey, now they take contraceptive pills prior to the journey because they expect to be raped and may be push into prostitution; this is a new challenge.
Relevant resolutions were raised on how to mitigate the situation, he said, adding that it was stated that sensitisation of young people on the risky journey should start at primary school level, to use the approach “catch them young” to prepare their mind to be patriotic.
“The government and the private sector must create jobs, and youths at risk must be captured in projects so as to keep those who wanted to prepare for the journey to stay.”
NYC/IOM should produce a video documentary showing the tragic experiences of returnees, as an evidence to support their advocacy.
Lamin Kujabi, a man in his 20s and a resident of London Corner, lamented that the only reason for this irregular migration is lack of employment.
He added that if youths are employed and empowered, they would stay and work for their country.
“We all want to live a better live; therefore, if we see any chance or have little resources I and any other person will go for a greener pasture,” he said.
He pleaded with government to create more job opportunities, which he said would help most youths to engage into something and start up something for themselves and their country.
During a brief interview with Yassin Jabbie, a mother of four, she said the private sector and government should create a conducive environment for the youths to stay back home and work for their country, rather than risking their lives in irregular migration.
She stressed that many young people are dying through this illegal backway, including young girls, all in the name of unemployment.