Migrants in Gambia bound for Europe apprehended

Authorities in The Gambia have intercepted a group of migrants who were attempting to set off for Europe by boat. The 79 migrants were camped at the beach in the coastal settlement of Bakau. Immigration and naval officers received a tip-off about the group and the migrants were then intercepted.

Of the 79 migrants, 58 were reported to be Senegalese, while the rest were Gambians. According to Gambian officials, most of the migrants started off the journey in Senegal before getting stranded in The Gambia.

According to Foroyaa newspaper, the captain of the boat left the migrants and went into town to acquire additional logistical support.

“When these people suspected that the security was coming for them, they decided to move the boat on their own, in deeper waters of the sea,” spokesperson of the Gambia Immigration Department, Malamandin Dibba, told Foroyaa.

The attempted escape failed and proved fatal. Dibba explained that while the migrants were trying to escape, the boat caught fire, and some of the migrants onboard the dinghy threw themselves into ocean. Four of the migrants died and were later found along the coast, while one person was rescued alive on the north bank of the River Gambia. An additional three people are still unaccounted for.

According to Dibba, the early morning operation was coordinated by different security operations in The Gambia. Two of those involved in masterminding the journey live in Senegal and Dibba said the authorities in Senegal have therefore been alerted about the incident.

The migrants have now been transferred to a migration centre in Tanji and will remain there until investigations have been completed.

The immigration department spokesperson used the opportunity to call on youths to resist “venturing into such dangerous journeys”.

“We are not preventing anyone from travelling. But if they must go, let them make sure they do it in the right way,” he cautioned.

TMP – 16/08/2018

Photo source: Foroyaa // http://foroyaa.gm/intended-backway-migrants-intercepted/. Photo caption: One of the recovered bodies in Bakau.