FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda)

21 December 2012

Gambia: A Returnee From Libya Narrates His Ordeal to Foroyaa

Alagie Sankung Jabbi, a 23-year-old man and a resident of Latrikunda Sabiji, returned from Libya and shares his experience with the public. Mr. Jabbi stated that he left the Gambia in June this year to Libya and then later to proceed to Italy and he had D15,000 (fifteen thousand dalasi) on him. He said while on the journey any check point they arrived at, they are asked to pay 10,000 CFA Francs (ten thousand)

which is equivalent to D600 (six hundred Dalasi) for non Gambians and for Gambians they are asked to pay 15000 to 20,000 CFA Francs which is equivalent to ten thousand two hundred dalasi and failure to pay, he said the police would search the individual and extort anything they could find on him. He said if they fail to see anything valuable on you, it results to lashing.

Jabbi further informs this reporter that when they arrived at Agadez in Niger, they had to pay (six hundred Dinar) DN600 which is equivalent to (nineteen to twenty thousand dalasi) for them to be smuggled into a village called Druku at the border between Niger and Libya where they were taken around 1am and dropped off by their guides and directed which route to embark on to reach Tripoli, he asserted. Mr. Jabbi also said when they arrived at the Libyan capital; they were arrested and jailed for one month. He added that while in prison, they were given "garri" and tomato paste for food. He said he was part of a group (27) twenty-seven prisoners who tried and escaped by jumping over a 15 metre fence by 2am . He said before they escaped, a prison with forty inmates was burnt down by the Libyan rebels and there were Gambians in prison. So he said when they jumped over the fence, one Gambian died and twenty-six of them were fortunate to escape. He also said the prison was located at the centre of the desert which took them three days to get to town and during the trip another escapee also died due to hunger and starvation before they arrived at the nearest village to the desert called Druku.

Jabbi who agrees to share his experience with our readers after his trip to Libya said while trekking the only thing they had to eat was dates locally called "Tandarma "which they got the third day of the journey, and when they arrived at that village they were given a twenty litre gallon to drink and they even requested more. He said after drinking water some of them were returned to Tripoli and some stayed at the village to work, he stated. He also went on to say the only job available in Libya is either by breaking dilapidated concrete walls or roof and offloading arms and ammunition from trucks of the soldiers. Mr. Jabbi said he was completely dissatisfied with those jobs because he said they were either paid food for working or paid a Dinar a month. "And if anyone dares to complain your employer would just take you behind and kill you because everyone has a gun", Explained Mr. Jabbi who recently came from a horrendous trip from Libya.

Mr. Jabbi further said he was fortunate to get a Libyan friend who hosted him for a few months and provided all his basic needs and he also helped him meet the united nation's personnel by arranging with one truck driver to take him with other Gambians to the united nation's base. He said the driver agreed to take them there if they would lie under the goods he was carrying which they did and were carried to the (UN) base where they were well taken care of by the (UN) personnel, who provided them with tooth paste, soap, mats etc. He added that they were given one thousand five hundred CFA Francs which is equivalent to eighty-five dalasi per day for two weeks. Jabbi said the UN later took them to the (UN) headquarters in central Tripoli and separated the Gambians from the Senegalese and then hired two buses from a company called Limpo that repatriated them up to Farafenni in the Gambia, where they were received by the Commissioner of police and other officers of the security apparatus of the Gambia. He also said they were given some advice by the Commissioner of police and then they were also interviewed by the Media.

Mr. Jabbi finally concluded by saying that there are hundreds of Gambians stranded in Niger, because it's only (UN) that helps and they cannot help anyone if they are not in Libya; that they desperately wanted to come back but could not and some were jailed for over 8 (eight) to 9 (nine) months without proper food and water. He said for him even if he is issued with a free visa to Libya he won't go, because he could not narrate all what he saw transpired in Libya. He would advise any one to work in the Gambia rather than go to Libya at this time.

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