For the first time in 8 years, Gambia government has sent a delegation to Libya to inspect the conditions of citizens in detention centers and renew bilateral relations with the troubled North African country, Kerr Fatou has learned.
Libya has descended into war since 2011 after toppling its former autocratic leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Since then, the security of the African Migrants who used the North African country as a transit point to Europe has been at the mercy of human traffickers and smugglers.
The five-member Gambian delegation that arrived in the troubled country on May 1 were Amadou Jawo from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commissioner Foday Gassama from Immigration Department, Geoffery Bala Gaye, Senior Assistant Secretary Ministry of Interior and Lamin A.K. Touray , Registrar of Companies.
Seedy Drammeh from the Gambia branch of the International Organisation of Migration was also in company.
“The delegation managed to visit one of the biggest detention centers in JANZUR –Tripoli, where they met Janzur chief of Immigration department to discuss issues concerning accusation on abuse of migrants in Libya, and recent activities carried out by IOM,” Edrisa Sarjo, secretary general of the Gambia Association in Libya, has informed Kerr Fatou.
“Foday Gassama who is irregular migration expert, spoke with the Gambia’s detained migrants about their conditions in detention centers. Gassama promised Gambians that they will be returned home through IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return programme the soonest possible time.”
Meanwhile, Touray at the registrar of companies has expressed concern over the fate nearly 70 migrants held for more than five months in a crowded detention center in Zuwara without sufficient food.
The delegation said in a statement that the numbers of irregular migrants at Zuwara is four times more than what it should be.
The immigration officer, Gassama, has identified 65 Gambians among the migrants who have requested IOM’s assistance to return to their countries of origin.
The processing and issuance of travel documents to Gambia returnees is ongoing and is expected to be completed by middle of May, Sarjo said.
A chartered flight by IOM has been scheduled to facilitate the voluntary return of Gambians.
The delegation that was hosted at the Palm City Hotel in Tripoli, where they met authorities from the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has returned on May 6.
The delegation also had a meeting with the Gambian Association in Libya regarding all activities for the promotion and welfare of all Gambian Nationals in Libya.
By Mustapha K Darboe