At least 21 Gambian children and three women were among 160 returnees that were trapped in conflict-ridden Libya, two of them seriously injured.
Gambians continue to be among the main nationalities using the desert route to Italy via Libya and that has not changed over the last 2-3 years as the country to gripped with isolation.
Gambian nationals are younger than others, many unaccompanied minors are among them and IOM says this is an additional challenge as their return has to be coordinated with the judges after the family is informed.
Gambians who returned in the country on April 4 have now formed an association to discourage the irregular migration through the desert route.
Mustapha Sallah, association’s secretary general said that they “want to help the youth of Gambia and fight against irregular migration.”
Youth unemployment in Gambia is currently at 38% and the EU has given at least $25 million to the new government to help create jobs.
At least 320 Gambians have been repatriated this year alone. Many were held for months in prisons and forced into slavery, according to the IOM.
The Italian Coast Guard said Sunday that about 3,000 people have been saved in the Mediterranean Sea in a single day while trying to make the journey from northern Africa to Europe.
Europe is seeing its deadliest migration crisis with more than 3,700 lives lost last year. UNHCR estimates that some 4,176 people have died or gone missing on the Mediterranean – an average of 11 men, women and children perishing every day.