The International Organization for Migration in partnership with the UN Migrants Agency, on Monday 18th December 2017, commemorated International Migrant's Day. As the 18th of December is set aside as the IOM's Global Migration Film Festival, participants to the event were given the opportunity to watch series of films portraying the challenges faced by youth on their risky 'back way' migration journey.
In her welcome remarks, Ms. Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UN Resident Coordinator, said the idea behind the Global Migration Film Festival is to give the facts and content to the event and why it is celebrated; that migration is the talk of the day in the Gambia and all over the world as well.
"More people are migrating now than ever before in our history. Out of the world population of about seven billion people, over one billion are migrants," she said.
The UN Resident Coordinator said there is currently an estimate of about two hundred and fifty million international migrants and seven hundred and sixty million internal migrants worldwide; that there are over twenty one million refugees who have been forced to migrate and seek international protection; that among the large number of migrants, there are other irregular migrants.
The UN Resident Coordinator said these are people who join the journey without required documents like passports or visa; that they travel from their country of origin and transit to their destination; that in the Gambia, many of the people embarking on such journeys are youth. Madam Lekoetje added that, looking at the issue of migration, it affects countries both financially and other ways; that the Global Migration Film Festival is in support of International Migrants Day.
The Representative of the Ministry of Interior Mr. Bully Dibba, said every human being in life must one day or the other venture into migration; but that people's mentality behind migration can be different. "Every young person should think of what to do for your country but not what your country can do for you," he said. PS Dibba added that the 'back way' journey is a concern to his Ministry and Government because people end up dying on such journeys; that the youth should know their worth to the country.
During the discussion participants, raised issues that they think lead them to embark on such journeys and key among this is that the African leaders have shown them that if they stay in Africa, their problems will not be solved.
A participant said the rate at which people are given visas by Embassies in the country is very slow; that when one applies for a visa one is mostly rejected than accepted; that priority is given to the sons and daughters of these leaders to go to Europe for their education, leisure and even treatment.