FILE PHOTO:  Migrants disembark from a vessel of ONG Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, June 24, 2016.     REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello/File Photo

Gambia: Repatriated migrants attack IOM office

A group of migrants that have been repatriated to the Gambia attacked the offices of the UN migration agency outside the West African nation’s capital, Banjul.

At least seven people, who threw stones at the offices of the International Organization for Migration have been arrested by the police and facing vandalism charges.

The angry mob said the promises made to them by the IOM were not fulfilled. They were expecting the organization to give them some $1,500 as part of their repatriation agreement to help them start their lives again.

“IOM staff attended to these returnees’ inquiries with diligence and provided detailed information on the assistance type and processes involved,” the local IOM officials said.

“Despite efforts to mediate this situation, after detailed explanations were provided, the group of returnees started displaying violent attitudes, throwing rocks against the IOM office and being verbally and physically aggressive.”

The IOM has helped repatriate at least 1,500 Gambians, who were mostly stranded in Libyan jails since April. The organizations says the aim of this reintegration assistance is not to provide cash but rather a tailored in-kind support to returnees through the provision.

The reintegration assistance also aims to contribute to providing returnees with opportunities to get back on track with their lives in The Gambia.

According to the IOM, the assistance provided is medical and psychosocial services, enrolment in vocational and skills training, referral to existing job opportunities, and advice and support in designing viable business plans, so that they can reintegrate back into Gambian society in a sustainable manner.

“This support includes the provision of tailored reintegration packages for vulnerable migrants (such as unaccompanied children, women or those requiring medical attention) which will be designed based on individual needs, including family tracing, reunification, and psychosocial counseling, among others,” a statement read.

Many of the West African nation’s youths have died and more than 25,000 of them have sought asylum Europe. Whiles The Gambia has governance issues, most of its migrant stocks are considered economic migrants.

The new government led by Adama Barrow has its work cut out to rebuild the country. Gambians were among the top nationalities leaving West Africa for Italy in 2016 and sold in Libya’s slave markets.

The new coalition government has made tackling irregular migration a priority. It plans to focus on creating jobs and training opportunities to reduce the 40 percent unemployment rate among young people, the main push factor behind The Gambia’s exodus.

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