A recent correspondence between the foreign affairs ministry of Libya and that of The Gambia, about a week ago, has indicated that 86 Gambians died in the conflict-ridden North African nation between April 2016 to April 2017 and 34 are missing.
The Secretary General of the Gambian Association in Libya, Edrisa Sarjo said most of the Gambian migrants died in Libya due to illness in prisons or accidents.
In 2017, about 512 Gambians were recorded to have been jailed in Libya, according to the Gambian association there.
Gambia’s foreign affairs minister, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe said they are concerned about the “horrendous” conditions of Gambians in the North African country where warring rebel factions are fighting for control.
Gambia is one of the West African countries hugely affected by irregular migration of youths who use Libya as a transit point to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.
Darboe said the government is “ready to do everything we can to make sure that those who want to return voluntarily, are assisted.”
“Having access is an issue due to the problems in Libya. We currently do not have a consulate in Libya due to the problems in the country. We are encouraging Gambians to come home. We are aware of the terrible conditions some are living in…,” Darboe told SMBC.
Gambia is extensively affected by irregular migration of youths to Italy through Libya and according to Mr. Sarjo, there are currently close to 7000 Gambian stranded in the North African country.
Sulayman Sonko, a Gambian national was reported missing in Benghazi where he is working as a Baker in the area controlled by radical Islamist group call ( ANSAR AL- SHARIA).
Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya. Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold for as low as $200.
The International Organization for Migration has recently helped to return hundreds of Gambians who have voluntarily chosen to come home since political change occurred in the country.
Sources from the IOM say that about 157 Gambians will again be voluntarily repatriated to the country from Libya on May 18, from the Tripoli area.