Thirty-nine Gambians among migrants rescued off coast of Guinea-Bissau

Seventy-two irregular migrants were recently rescued along the coast of Guinea Bissau according to the Liaison Officer of the Spanish Embassy in The Gambia, Antonio Navarro. The migrants were rescued by a South American ship, which was sailing to Ivory Coast.

Mr. Navarro said the migrants, mainly young men, were made up of 39 Gambians and 33 Senegalese. They were headed to Spain from Senegal but lost their way at sea. The migrants say they drifted at sea for about a week before they were found by the South American ship.

The ship’s captain contacted the Spanish Embassy and told them that he had sighted a boat with the irregular migrants headed to Spain. The embassy alerted the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) and the Gambia Navy (GN), “The Gambian navy officers deployed two boats to bring the migrants to the port in Banjul on Sunday evening. The operation was conducted alongside personnel of the Gambia Immigration Department, Gambia Fire and Rescue Service, the National Disaster Management Agency and the Red Cross,” said Mr. Navarro.

The Gambia Immigration Department spokesperson, Superintendent Mamanding S. Dibba, said the rescue operation would not have been not possible without the collaborative efforts of the institutions that took part. He also urged those seeking to travel to Europe to do so using safe and legitimate routes.

Mr. Dibba said the rescued migrants were taken to a centre in Tanji, in southern Gambia, where they were screened. The  Gambian nationals were returned to their families, while the Senegalese were handed over to their embassy for repatriation.

Speaking on behalf of the army, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Bojang said this is the second rescue operation of its kind and the first one involving potential migrants along the Gambian coast.  One of the young Gambian migrants rescued said he wants to make another attempt despite failing on the first try, convinced by the economic opportunities available. The 16-year-old student said he had paid about GMD 40, 000 (USD 809) on top of the money his brother had sent to him from Spain to embark on the journey.

However, 22-year-old Bakary Fofana, who said he was not forced to migrate and that he decided to travel to Europe to seek opportunities, advised caution to others:  “I will advise people not to ever venture onto this journey now that I know the risks involved,” he said.

TMP – 22/10/2018

Photo Credit: Author. Rescued migrants onboard Gambian navy ship after rescue operation.