A total of 140 Gambian nationals arrived in the country early Friday morning, March 10th, expatriated from Libya.
This was confirmed by Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty during a press briefing on Friday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
According to him, there are about 1000 Gambians in Libya who are stranded and many of them want to come home.
“They are victims of crime and they have no money, no food, and no proper shelter and their living condition is abominable. The responsibility of the government is to look after its citizens whether they are at home or abroad” he said.
According to him, when they got reports of Gambians stranded in Libya, his ministry accelerated negotiations with IOM in order to repatriate Them from Libya voluntarily.
“We have registered 460 Gambians in Libya who are living in abominable conditions and would like to return home as they can no longer proceed on their journey. Among this 460, I am glad to report that 140 people have returned around 1am this morning (Friday) in Banjul. We are hoping that the 460 Gambians who registered to voluntarily return home will all be repatriated working in partnership with IOM” he said.
According to Minister Fatty, all the 140 Gambians were all processed by joint security forces including the Immigration, the Police and the Intelligent Agencies and were provided with psychological counseling in period of 4 to 6 hours.
“As I speak to you today, they are returning to their families many of them in the Kombo area. Through our partnership and cooperation with the IOM, each of those 140 Gambians were also given D2, 600 to facilitate their transport logistic back to their homes” he explained.
He revealed that they have been negotiating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) because they received concerns on the request of Gambian citizens in Libya who embarked on irregular migration which is call the ‘back way.’
“That is something that we feel very proud of because it is our responsibility to support our citizens in distress whether at home or abroad. And we will continue to do that with all Gambians where ever they may be. We will also expedite the facilitation of travel documents for them which we had in this particular Instance” he said.
Interior Minister Fatty said there is no recognized government in Libya at the moment, there is fighting and the citizens are at risk there. He assured the Gambians in Diaspora not to listen to people who say the Immigration will be coming for them in Europe.
For the Gambians who have committed crimes in foreign countries (in prisons or have served their terms) and are supposed to be returning home, he said it is the judicial process that will be sending them home and not the Gambia government. He said if any one commits crime or violates immigration laws of other countries the Gambia cannot intervene because the Gambia have similar laws.
“However, if they have evidence such a case hasn’t undergone impartial judicial process, we will use our diplomatic services in favour of such Gambians. There will be immigration officers in most the Gambia embassies to make their work easier for them” he concluded.