Gambia: As Country Mourns
Rescue Mission team in The Gambia, are still searching for the drowned economic immigrants, who lost their lives this past week, while trying to find their way into Europe, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal.
The boat, which was filled to capacity was set on fire, which left about dozen of travelers dead. Rescue team workers told the Freedom Newspaper that the dead bodies were scattered along the River Gambia and that intensive search was being mounted by personnel of The Gambia Navy, the Gambia Red Cross and other Humanitarian Organizations to locate the dead. About sixty youth were onboard the boat when the boat they were traveling with was set on fire. Bereaved families are mourning their loved ones. Across the country, there is an environment of shock everywhere.
One of the survivors told the Freedom Newspaper that due to lack of jobs and political freedoms in the impoverished former British Colony, many youth took it upon themselves to risk their lives by engaging in such risky overseas voyages. " There is no job in this country. We feel that the only best way out is by traveling to Babylon . I have been denied Visa on many occasions, so I thought that the only alternative I have at my disposal is to enter the Canary Islands illegally. I thank God for saving my life. I could have died like my colleagues, but I survived the tragedy.
It's very hard to live in this country. My parents relied on me for a living." said one of the survivors who spoke to this reporter.
Bereaved families have blamed the Jammeh Government for failing to tighten Maritime Security.
For instance, they said had the Government intensified Navy sea patrol and Ports screening, the lives of these young men could have been saved. "The Government is partly responsible for this tragedy. How can the Gambia Ports Authority, the Navy and the NIA carelessly allowed these sailors to use our Ports as a departing zone without being detected. This goes to show that there is lapse of security in this country. As a parent, I'm demanding from the Government to conduct a full scale investigation into the incident. The President should come to our aid and help bring the wanting Maritime officials to book. My son was among those who lost their lives in this tragedy. He was the breadwinner of the family. We have lost a great son." the old man lamented.
The Gambia over the years had been used as a transit point by youth aspiring to pursue greener pasture overseas. About 60 Ghanaian Immigrants who were mistaken as dissident rebels posed to disrupt President Jammeh's military takeover celebrations were murdered by personnel of the State Guards.
Since that gruesome murder of the said Ghanaians, the Jammeh Government had come under increasing pressure from Ghanaians- most importantly the Kufor Government to account for their murdered loved ones.
A Navy officer who has been taking part on the Rescue Mission said " This incident can be blamed to poor Maritime Security. These lives could have been saved if the necessary Maritime Security Measures were enforced. As we speak, bereaved families are storming our offices trying to find out if their loved ones were among the list of people recovered. I think there is need for our command to intensify sea patrol.
They are only eager to pursue foreign vessels fishing illegally in our waters. The President should look into the activities of the Navy. Many people are dying in our sea. I'm a Navy officer, but I must admit that our men are not doing their job as required."
Economy, Business and Finance
Transport and Shipping
In a bid to discourage illegal Immigration to Spain, The Gambian Government recently reached a bi-lateral agreement with the former to clampdown on would be Immigrants trying to cross to the Canary Islands. Many West African Nationals have died over the years, while trying to migrate into Spain illegally.
Senegal and The Gambia are one of the most hard hit countries by illegal Immigration.
In another development, the Spanish Government recently reached a deal with the Senegalese authorities, in which both nations agreed for 2,700 work permits to be issued to Senegalese illegal Immigrants in Spain. The Spanish gesture was geared towards granting legal status to Senegalese Immigrants , who resettled in that country couple of years ago. Out of this significant figure of Senegalese Immigrants, who had their status regularized , are expected to secure employment in the Agricultural and Fisheries sectors respectively.
Meanwhile, sources say the Gambian Government instead of lobbying for its Nationals to gain legal status in Spain had reached a deal with the Spanish authorities to help discourage illegal Immigration.
Spain was reported to have handed a significant amount of money to The Gambian authorities to spearhead the said clampdown on illegal Immigration.
Most of these youth left their respective countries in a bid to better their lives abroad by embarking on such dangerous sea voyages.