Gambian mother in Libyan jail released after intense diplomatic pressure

Gambian mother in Libyan jail released after intense diplomatic pressure

A 22-year old Gambian woman who has been breastfeeding her newly born baby in a notorious Libyan detention center in Geriyana, a month after her family paid ransom to her captor, has been released through the help of the UN-back Libyan government in Tripoli.

“Fatou Ceesay and her seven-month-old baby are now free and secure. She was released from detention on January 1, 2018,” the secretary general of Gambian Association in Libya, Edrisa Sarjo said.

Fatou Ceesay, who spent 8 months in two different detention centers in Sabratha and Geriyana, two of the many places in Libya where African migrants are kidnapped for ransom, has been released on January first after intense pressure from Gambian authorities.

On December 31, the president of the Gambian Association in Libya, Tambana Fofana, has received a phone call from one of Tripoli detention centers call Tarik Matar informing him that Gambian nationals were in their detention.

On January 1, Fofana rushed to a detention center to identify Gambian nationals when he found Fatou Ceesay and her baby and Sireh Jallow, Sarjo said.

He negotiated their freedom and signed a document from Libya’s Ministry of Justice, which was an agreement between the two countries.

“In last two weeks, there were serious communications between top Gambian officials and Libyan Authorities in Tripoli… The Foreign Ministry of the Gambia put pressure on the Libya UN-backed Government in Tripoli, regarding Mrs. Ceesay’s release,” Sarjo told The Torch Newspaper.

Ceesay, her baby and one Sirreh Jallow are now being sheltered by Gambian Association in Libya as they await evacuation to the Gambia through the support of the International Organization for Migration.

Sarjo said the vice president Fatoumatta Tambajang has also made incredible efforts in ensuring that the women and the seven-month-old baby are released from detention.

“Fatoumata Tambajang, the Vice President and minister of women affairs, also never slept without calling me to know the situation on the ground. We appreciated her efforts rendered for release of Mrs. Ceesay,” Sarjo added.

Ceesay was a migrant worker in Libya with her husband Bakary Camara until war broke out in the troubled North African nation.

As security situation deteriorated and safety of black Africans were compromised, Ceesay and her husband attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea in May 2017 for a “better life” in Italy.

Their boat sank and Ceesay, seven months pregnant at the time, lost her husband. The boat which sank close to Libyan coastline was carrying 150 people, 35 of which were rescued by Libya’s Coast Guards.

The Coast Guards took Ceesay and other rescued migrants to a detention center in the seaside town of Sabratha, where she delivered a baby boy.

Ceesay, who kept contact with her family in the Gambia was able to negotiate her freedom at a cost of $250 [D10,000 dalasis] paid by her family. But the Gambian agent, a human trafficker, who negotiated her ransom payment, has failed to secure her release.

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