May 10, 2013, 10:05 AM
The National Enterprise Development Initiative, NEDI, on Wednesday 7 October 2012, concluded a two-day orientation of youths on illegal migration at the Paradise Suites Hotel.
NEDI was tasked with empowering Gambian youths and women through the provision of training in entrepreneurship, provide them with loans to operate business in the informal sector and give business advice in order to ensure investment sustainability.
According to officials, the forum was meant to raise awareness of youth on the dangers of illegal migration, expose them to employment opportunities available in the country, and the government policies and programmes in place.
Speaking to this reporter at the event, Landing B. Sanneh, coordinator of NEDI, said the training targeted 35 young people who were recently intercepted by the immigration officials in Farafenni on their way to Libya.
He noted that they organised the training session for the youths in order to engage them on the dangers of illegal migration.
“As one of the institutions working on youth employment creation, we think it is fitting to organised such forum where all stakeholders will discuss and strategize on how to tackle unemployment and end illegal migration,” said the NEDI coordinator.
Sanneh revealed that this was there first event for youths on illegal migration, but prior to this, NEDI organised a series of events on enterprise development.
The NEDI boss was optimistic that the forum will have a huge impact, while describing information as ‘very powerful’.
He highlighted the fact that some of the young people embark on illegal migration due to lack of awareness of the opportunities available in the country.
“We are going to draw tangible activities with partners, involving the young people. This is just the beginning, as we will also further enhance their skills in enterprise development,” Sanneh added.
Asked why youths embark on illegal journeys, Sanneh said he believes that the peer influence and the perception that everything is in Europe is the main reason.
He called for collaborative efforts to mobilize the youths, and talk to them at family levels, among others, and to sell the ideas and opportunities available in the country, while urging the youths also to tapped from the resources created by the government.
Addressing the forum, the director general of the Gambia Immigration Department, Buba Sagnia, urged young people to desist from venturing into illegal migration.
He spoke at length on the commitment of the government to the plight of Gambian youths, noting that during the Libyan war, government chartered a special flights to evacuate Gambian citizens.
DG Sagnia however lamented that they are receiving some information about Gambians still heading to the North African country.
Speaking to the youths at the session, Babucarr Jabbi, chairman of Operation No Back Way to Europe, also urged young people not to embark on the illegal journeys.
Jabbi further urged the youth to respect themselves, and to protect the integrity of the country. According to him, since the establishment of the Operation No Back Way to Europe they have registered many successes and some of their members are currently serving at the immigration, police and so on.
Pa Suwareh Faye, director of youth and sports, also implored youths to make best use of the opportunities being provided by the government.