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GAMBIA: YAHYA SONKO A GAMBIAN ACTIVIST ACCUSES THE GOVERNMENT OF FAILING TO COMBAT IRREGULAR MIGRATION

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Migration activist Yahya Sonko, who currently resides in Germany, has lodged grave accusations against the Gambian government, contending that their endeavors to tackle the problem of irregular migration are negligible at best.

Sonko expressed concern, remarking, “The Gambia Government is making negligible to no effort to address the situation. They will, as is customary, remain silent until a calamity transpires before taking action. Given that Gambia is a very small nation, it is common knowledge that community organizations organize boat excursions. Where are the SIS, the navy, and the immigration department? Why are the traffickers and coordinators of these boat excursions so difficult to trace down? The International Organization for Migrants (IOM) conducted a sequence of capacity-building workshops and training sessions in The Gambia to assist the Immigration Department in addressing the issue of irregular migration. The speaker underscored the importance of applying the insights gained from these training sessions to effectively tackle the irregular migration problem in The Gambia.

Sonko implored the Gambian Minister of the Interior to convene an emergency meeting in order to hold security officials accountable, believing that a significant number of these vessels could be intercepted through more effective efforts. On the subject of migration, he advised the President to convene a nationwide dialogue in order to facilitate an open and honest discourse. He suggested involving village Alkalos, Village Development Committee (VDC) leaders, Chiefs, and Governors, as they frequently possess information that could aid law enforcement in identifying boat trip organizers, noting that these excursions are frequently organized within communities and villages.

Sonko was especially alarmed by the growing participation of minors and women in these perilous sea journeys to Spain, noting that expectant women have also embarked on these perilous voyages.

The activist asserts that the present migration crisis in the Canary Islands is approaching magnitudes not observed since the most substantial arrival of immigrant vessels in 2006. A year later, in 2023, more than 30,000 survivors, primarily from West Africa, have arrived at their shores; the number of women and adolescents undertaking these crossings has increased significantly.

Sonko emphasized authoritative data provided by the Spanish Ministry of Interior, which disclosed that as of October 15th, an extraordinary 30,400 migrants had arrived in the Canary Islands in the year 2023. A considerable segment of these migrants originated from neighboring countries, namely Senegal and The Gambia. Additionally, he disclosed that throughout the months of January through October of the present year, a cumulative count of 2,345 individuals arrived in different Spanish cities from The Gambia aboard 18 distinct vessels.

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