Feb 20, 2017, 11:27 AM
The Gambia joined the global community on 20 June in commemorating World
Refugee Day, it is important to highlight the plight of about 8,000 refugees
living in the country.
Refugees are not just illegal or ordinary migrants; they are people who fled their countries of birth or residence due to war, persecution and violence. No one becomes a refugee by choice; in essence it was circumstance that led these people to leave their countries and sought refuge here some years ago.
The majority of these refugees are faced with enormous challenges ranging from livelihood, health, social protection and so forth after departing their countries of origin in emergency situations.
Therefore, as WRD 2017 is commemorated on the theme ‘We stand together #WithRefugees’, it is important for us to reaffirm our support and renew our commitment to the welfare of refugees by offering them a safe haven, and welcome them in our schools, our workplaces and open our societies in general to them.
It is important that they are provided with humanitarian assistance in order to reduce their vulnerability and improve their socio-economic status as they continue to live in The Gambia.
Their host communities need to be provided with some form of supporters geared towards redressing some of the possible stress placed on the available social amenities partly due to influx of refugees in these communities.
It is crucial to fashion out a sort of self-reliance and livelihood strategy that is refugee-host driven based on their needs. But such strategy should recognise the self-reliance and dignity of the refugees.
The refugees and the host communities need support to be able to embark on improvement of education facilities for host and refugee children residing in the rural areas; provision of water supply for both domestic and vegetable garden; agricultural and horticultural input support; cash vouchers, startup kits and vocational assistance to support livelihood activities to enhance economic empowerment and self-reliance, and sexual and gender-based violence and human rights training and sensitisation activities.
These would help the refugees to live a dignified life and be self-reliant to take care of their needs and those of their other family member’s while they continue to stay in our country.
As we stand together #WithRefugees, we hereby urge stakeholders to ensure that every refugee child gets an education, ensure that every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and ensure that every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families.
“It is important that they are provided with humanitarian assistance in order to reduce their vulnerability and improve their socio-economic status .”