By: Alieu Ceesay
Amidst the lingering echoes of recent skirmishes between the Senegalese Army and rebels in Cassamance, the National Security Council embarked on its inaugural visit to the frontline villages of Foni. This unprecedented move seeks to blend security measures with humanitarian efforts, a testament to the Council’s commitment to shielding and supporting the residents grappling with the complex challenges arising from the conflict.
At the heart of this crisis is Tijan Touray, a seasonal farmer who fervently calls on Gambian authorities for protection amidst the devastation of his crops and property. “All of my crops have perished, over D25,000 cash burned to ash, and nothing, including my clothes and mattresses, escaped the flames,” Touray lamented. His house, victim to the crossfire between the Senegalese Army and rebels along the Gambia’s border, now stands in ruin.
During the joint operations, villagers guided the delegation through areas scarred by bombardment, revealing the extent of the conflict’s impact on Gambian soil.
Shering Modou Njie, the Defense Minister, assured these vulnerable communities of forthcoming peace and security. He affirmed that collected reports would be presented to President Adama Barrow, who also chairs the National Security Council.
“The interest of the National Security Council is to provide the security needed for our people and engage our counterparts to halt shells and bullets landing on our territory,” Minister Faye emphasized.
In a poignant reflection on the historical neglect of border villages, Almameh Gibba, National Assembly member for Foni Jarol, remarked, “Since the change of government seven years ago, these people have never seen a visit—no Chief of Defense Staff, no Defense Minister, and no Interior Minister have set foot in their homes.”
Despite the visit by delegates, fear still grips the residents, who remain wary of the presence of the Senegalese Army and rebels in their territory. Gratitude, however, is extended to the Gambia Army Forces, particularly the Fourth Infantry Battalion of Kanilai village, by the majority of villagers who appreciate their protective role in these trying times.