An opposition activist said Gambian migrants journeying through the Sahara to cross the Mediterranean into Europe risk being kidnapped for ransom in the eastern Burkina Faso province of Tapoa.
Suntou Touray, the coordinator of the opposition UDP in the United Kingdom has accused President Yahya Jammeh of conspiring with scoundrel members of security forces in Niger and Burkina Faso to hold Gambian migrants in Kantchari and Mogalona for ransom.
Kantchari is some 233 miles east of the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou on the border with Niger. It is home to about 5,000 people and a two-hour drive to Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Touray said the EU is receiving traumatized Gambians who were detained in inhumane conditions and subjected to torture.
“Though Kantchari is a dead trap, these youths are not ready to go back home. They will rather die than be taken back to Gambia. The authorities take all their small money and beat them mercilessly,” Touray said.
There has been a reported surge in kidnappings in Niger and Libya by cartels and families are forced to pay up to $700 in ransom to free their loved ones with many migrants dieing of hunger and thirst in the Sahara.
Gambians are considered economic migrants and at least 75 percent of asylum seekers from the West African nation have been rejected by EU nations. Rights campaigns insist that The Gambia’s regime is one of Africa’s most repressive and said most of the youths are fleeing persecution with Jammeh’s administration passing tighter oppressive laws, further restricting freedoms.
The Gambia receives funding from the EU in an effort to curb the mass exodus of its youths but critics of the government said the funds are not been used for the purpose they have been designed for.
Touray said the EU needs to end political imbalances in Africa adding that the unfair strategy of neutrality is only helping repressive rulers to inflict hardship on the population, pushing more young people into illegally migrating to Europe.
More than 10,000 Gambian refugees live in neighboring Senegal, most of them pro-democracy activists, journalists and former security officers who fell out of favor with President Yahya Jammeh.
The Gambia has the third largest arrivals in Europe by boat and many of its citizens have died attempting to reach Italy and Spain. A crackdown in Niger is not stopping West African migrants from arriving in Agadez, the last big stop before reaching Libya, on their journey to Europe. They get caught in the conflict in Libya and pour into poverty-stricken Niger and Chad were their make shift camps are destroyed.