Youth Against Irregular Migration (YAIM) has just concluded over a week-long sensitization campaign in the Central River South and the Upper River Region, where they explained their experiences to communities as a way of discouraging the syndrome.
The group that was formed by Gambian migrants in detention camps in Libya prior to their repatriation by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) comprised those who unsuccessfully embarked on the journey to Europe. They did so at great expense to their social, family and economic situations. Many of their colleagues perished at sea and in the desert, some died at detention camps while others as hostages or caught in cross fires between rebel factions.
“For those of us who made it back, we make this our duty to spread the message of what we went through in this journey. We do not wish to see our brothers and sisters repeat the same mistakes we made. The journey is hopeless and costs you everything you hold dear,” Mustapha Sallah, the group’s secretary general said.
“The aim of the campaign caravan was to discourage youths from engaging in irregular migration and to ensure that young people are given opportunities to participate in decision making platforms,” Mr. Karamo Keita, group’s chairperson said, noting such platforms will help youths to meaningfully contribute their quota in national development.
All of the members were one time in detention camps, taken as hostages or escaped near-death situations on the journey. One by one, they recounted their experiences to each community they interacted with. They visited markets, schools, Bantabas and ghettos to spread the message.
In Jareng, they planted 2,000 trees with the community as part of their campaign. At the community gathering afterwards, the Alkalo of the village, Alhaji.Malanding Ceesay, expressed delight at the initiative of the returnees to spread their experiences as a way of discouraging others.
In Brikamaba, one Hamidou Barry confessed that they will never embark on this journey after hearing what both male and female migrants went through. “We are saying ‘no’ to the back way (irregular migration). Your stories are very emotional and they have inspired us to stay and work in the country rather than risk everything just for Europe.”
This is the third phase of the nation camapign the group is embarking on. It started in the North Bank, then the Central River North and now the Upper River and Central River South. The next one will be in the Lower River Region.
By Isatou M Ceesay