By Omar Bah
Reacting to the recent deaths of over 63 African migrants in Mauritania en route to Europe, Mai Ahmad Fatty said the government must re-engage the European Union on migration to avert the continuous perishing of Gambian youths at the Mediterranean.
“We must re-engage the EU constructively and consistently, within the framework of existing improved bilateral partnership and the revised Cotonou Protocol, on facilitating the path to legitimacy for our undocumented citizens in Europe, focusing on education and skills training on the long term, while implementing variables that would drastically reduce this on-going carnage,” the GMC leader told The Standard.
Sixty-three migrants lost their lives when a migrant boat left Banjul on November 27th, Europe-bound and capsized off the coast of Nouadhibou in Mauritania with a passenger load of 150.
According to the IOM, the boat was on low fuel, and 63 men, women and children drowned and died, mostly Gambians.
However, Fatty said the precious lives that were lost could have been averted. “I am devastated.”
Nearly 40,000 Gambians left the country for Europe through the “back-way” over the last six years.
The GMC leader said during his recent tour of Europe, he held meetings with Gambian asylum seekers and their German supporters in Stuttgart.
He said he learned that at least 8,000 Gambian asylum seekers are in one German state alone, Baden-Württenberg.
“The future of The Gambia is being perished in the high seas and migrant camps along the migratory routes with thousands more living on the edge in Europe. This is very dangerous for a small country like ours. It is beyond an emergency and we must not continue to fold our hands and watch our youths gradually dissipate into nothingness. The future viability of our nation is urgently at stake,” he added.
He said the country’s failure to build sustainable future for its youths at home, “means a nation without a sustainable future. That is why we are appalled at the dismal budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the 2020 budget just approved by Parliament”.
“We must act now, and together condition politicians in Parliament, in central government, political parties and civil society to emerge with a National Youth Compact that places the youth at the fore of the development agenda, and in all political party platforms. This Compact must have a neutral observatory and a non-partisan integrated monitoring mechanism,” he said.
He said the Gambian navy and Immigration should be properly trained, equipped and resourced to routinely patrol and protect Gambia’s land and marine borders, intercept human traffickers and help prevent deaths at sea.
“Gambian intelligence community should coordinate, intensify joint efforts to detect, infiltrate, and dismantle the lucrative domestic human smuggling network and their foreign partners, working in partnership with sister law enforcement organisations within the region and beyond,” he noted.
The Ministry of Justice, Fatty added, must accelerate its efforts in overcoming the inherent challenges being confronted by the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP),