Over 200 Gambian migrants intercepted in Morocco seeking return home

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By: Foday Manneh

Some 233 irregular migrants from the Gambia were intercepted in Morocco on March 30 and April 1, 2023, respectively, and are now seeking ways to return home.

The migrants started the irregular journey from the Gambia and were en route to their dream destination, Spain, before Moroccan authorities intercepted them. The group includes teachers, students, and some nurses who left their jobs and education to search for greener pastures.

However, after a week in the custody of the Moroccan authorities, these migrants, mainly youths, are now exploring ways to return to the Gambia as they find life unbearable in the North African nation and reportedly pleaded and contacted the Gambian authorities but to no success.

“We left the Gambia on the sea and were on the journey for one week before reaching Morocco. On the eighth day of our journey, the Marines intercepted and burned our boat. They took us to a camp, and that’s where we are,” a man reported as a teacher said.

“Many of us want to go back home now. We have teachers, nurses, and students in our midst. I am a teacher and have spoken to my school. They are ready to reinstate me back. We aimed to reach Spain, not stop in Morocco. We don’t like this place, so we want our government to help,”

“We are just caged in one place, and we don’t have any freedom. “We have challenges with having access to water. Sometimes, many of us cannot take a bath,” he added.

A lady amid the travelers told TAT, “Some of us came with only a pair of clothes. The Gambia consular came to see us, and we told him we wanted to return home. The situation here is unbearable; imagine we are using sticks to brush our teeth.”

“The hygiene here is bad. We don’t even have soaps to take baths, much more the women here. The consular here is not collaborative at all.”

Another migrant involved in the journey was a practicing nurse in the Gambia; he stressed their condition, saying if the needful is not done, some lives could be miserable.

Meanwhile, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, the Gambia government confirmed the rescue of two irregular migrant boats in Morocco on March 30 and April 1, 2023, consisting mainly of Gambians.

The government said the first boat, which spent seven days on the journey, had 161 people, out of which 148 were Gambians, while the last ship to be intercepted was carrying 100 migrants, out of which 48 were Gambians. A total of 233 people were intercepted.

“Within the framework of the close cooperation and partnership between the two brotherly countries, the Moroccan government, in collaboration with the Gambia Embassy in Rabat, is facilitating the necessary arrangements for the safe and smooth repatriation of the Gambian migrants back to the Gambia,” the government promised.

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