BANJUL, 25 April 2022: On Wednesday 20 April 2022, the Executive of Voluntary Migrant Returnees from Libya paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Mamadou Tangara in his office in Banjul. The meeting was also meant to introduce the new association, its executive members as well as their objectives to the Honourable Minister. The Gambian Association in Libya and the International Organisation for Migration have supported the repatriation of hundreds of Gambian migrants who voluntarily returned from Libya as a result of hardships and maltreatment in the North African country.
After the return of the last two batches in November 2021, the voluntary returnees converged in February 2022 to select an Executive that will represent their purpose and interest. Consequently, the Executive sought to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs to share their ordeals and those in Libya currently languishing in prisons and detention centres. The meeting was very emotional as the eight executive members took turns narrating their heart-breaking stories filled with imprisonment, detention, trafficking, kidnapping, rape and other maltreatment.
The group said the association was formed to support each other to easily reintegrate and settle and to also be a mouthpiece for their colleagues suffering in Libya while endeavouring to deter others from venturing into this horrendous journey. The migrant returnees sought support from the government to facilitate opportunities for them as most of them already have skills that could be utilized with support from the government, NGOs, and other partners in a bid to support themselves and their families. The association also sought support from the government in terms of diplomatic representation in Libya, requesting at least a Liaison Officer from the Gambian Association in Tripoli so that through him, the association would have access to various prisons and detention centres where Gambians are languishing.
The Honourable Minister expressed pleasure in receiving the members and pledged the government’s support by appointing a Liaison Officer very soon. He also directed the Director of Diaspora and Migration to start engaging the Nigerian Government so that the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli could represent Gambians and provide them with humanitarian assistance. He also urged the association to register with the Ministry of Justice so that they can be recognized and thus attract support. The Honourable Minister also supported the association with an initial capital of fifty thousand dalasis (D50,000). This is the first time migrant returnees organized themselves to form an association for their welfare and reintegration.