two-day national stakeholders’ forum on migration in The Gambia organised by
the National Youth Council and funded by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung last Saturday
came to an end at NaNA conference hall. It’s an indisputable fact that
migration is a topical issue in recent years and has affected many developing
countries including The Gambia.
Addressing the opening on behalf of the Minister of Interior, Ousman Ceesay deputy permanent secretary at Interior, said the trend of irregular migration commonly referred to as ‘backway’ in The Gambia has affected both countries of origin and destination countries, saying in addressing this phenomenon, ‘we need the support and cooperation of all stakeholders in the country, development and bilateral partners outside The Gambia especially destination countries’.
“At this critical moment, what we all need is to offer options to manage the situation and come up with solutions to address the unintended negative impacts of migration. We need to continue to intensify actions to accelerate sustainable integration of returnees in The Gambia and create decent jobs for our youth in the country, said Mr Ceesay.
Since January 2017, over four thousand youth have been returned voluntarily to The Gambia from migrants transiting countries in Africa (mainly Niger and Libya), with more expected to return.
“This forum today is timely in order for us to engage each other as stakeholders in migration management to understand specific and pressing needs of our youth and come up with key recommendations and strategies to support the youth, raise awareness on alternatives to irregular migration, facilitates the sustainable reintegration of voluntary migrants returnees and deportees, and effectively engage our partners countries such as Germany and Gambian Diaspora in the socioeconomic development of The Gambia through transfer of skills, technical and financial resources to address this migration challenge”, he added.
Hadrammeh Sidibeh, Minister of Youth and Sports described the gathering as significant as migration concerns almost all.
Youth Minister added that in recent years, hostile political environment and the pursuit for socio-economic advancement – especially among the youth – has driven many to undertake irregular migration route in search of greener pastures in Europe and other parts of the world.
This he added, has undoubtedly costs the country significantly as ‘we lost a good number of not only young but smart and intelligent people to Europe and other African countries’.
Minister Drammeh indicated that the government is aware of the migration dynamics and challenges it poses to socio-economic development, which is why it supports The Gambia-Songhai Initiative and National Youth Service Scheme to provide young people the opportunity to acquire relevant and marketable skills and maximise their potential to earn a decent and a sustainable livelihood.
He also hailed the existence of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP Gambia) project, which seeks to address the economic root causes of irregular migration by supporting youth employment and entrepreneurship.
He thanked KAS for their continued support, further expressing hope to continue partnership so as to give hope to youth and offer them economic and livelihood opportunities for them to stay and make it in The Gambia.
Thomas Volk Resident, a representative for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung expressed his office’s resolve in supporting state authorities, civil society organisations and economic partners on the way forward in The Gambia in order to strengthen the new democratisation process.
Reforms he said, are never easy and as such citizens need to have patience with development, but was quick to add that ‘we need economic opportunities and job creation for young people’.
Mr Volk noted that irregular migration can never be an answer to the problems existing in The Gambia, saying regular ways of migration must be searched.
Dembo Kambi, Chairman National Youth Council explained that in the recent past ‘we have witnessed a lot of movement by our young people in search of greener pastures in the west which has led to many young people losing their lives along the way while others stranded along the way’.
‘We cannot stop irregular migration without coming together to map out solutions as well as give youth tangible options that will make them stay in the country and make a better living’, he added.