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Are Gambian Immigrants Still Detained In Libya?

Sep 14, 2009, 6:07 AM | Article By: Alieu Jabang & Saniey Marenah

If the comment of Dr. Omar Touray, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs is anything to go by, a good number of Gambian immigrants are currently being detained in Libya.

Dr. Touray, who was at the time of making this statement, the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs last Thursday told the National Assembly that plans were in the footing to send immigration officials to Libya to help identify Gambians among the thousands of African immigrants detained in that country.

Responding to a question raised by Hon. Babanding K.K. Daffeh, the Member for Kiang Central on the fate of those Gambian illegal migrants who were arrested and detained by the Libyan, Senegalese, and Moroccan authorities sometime in 2008/2009, Dr. Touray said once the identification is completed they would be repatriated.

According to him, the illegal migration of Gambian youths has always been a cause for concern, noting that government's efforts at stemming out this phenomenon is known to everyone.

These efforts, he added, range from creating the enabling environment for capacity-building and skill training to law enforcement measures, aimed at deterring aspiring immigrants.

"Yet, in spite of the personal risks involved in these journeys, the youths continue to embark on these hazardous and deadly escapades," he told the deputies.

According to the former Foreign Affairs Minister, in order to avert detection and deportation, illegal immigrants conceal their true identity and claim to come from war-torn zones or from places where their lives are being threatened.

This, he said, makes it difficult for government to establish the exact number of Gambians under detention in various places.

With regards to Morrocco and Senegal, Dr. Touray informed the Assembly that government has through its diplomatic representations in the two countries established that no Gambian illegal migrant is under detention in these countries.