IOM/Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Launches National Referral Mechanism
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare with support from European Union (EU) and the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons on Thursday launched the initiative to develop a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for the Protection and Assistance of Vulnerable Migrants in The Gambia.
The initiative brought together key stakeholders from government institutions, NGOs, and UN agencies working in the area of migrant protection and the provision of vital assistance and reintegration support to vulnerable migrants, assistance and protection to victims of trafficking.
“These migrants comprises victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and separated children, migrants with health needs (including mental health and psychosocial needs), stranded migrants, elderly returnees, returnees with disabilities, single parent returnees, asylum seekers and women”, said Ms. Fumiko Nagano, Chief of Mission International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Ms. Nagano said with respect to victims of trafficking, the initiative will address the needs of migrants that have fallen victim as a result of their irregular migration. However, she added it should be remembered that the Gambia remains a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in persons and that the profile of victims in the country includes women, men and children.
“As you are fully aware, in recent years, large number of Gambian men, women and children have been taking the precarious journey north in the hope of reaching Europe”, She stated.
From January 2017 to December 2019 Nagano said the collaboration has resulted in the return of more than 5,000 migrants, mainly from Libya, Niger, Mali and North Africa. She added that several returnees have been identified as having vulnerabilities which included: 204 cases of returnees with health needs, 158 vulnerable female returnees, 56 identified victims of trafficking (VOTs), 33 cases of Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children (UASC) and 14 cases of returnees that are elderly (aged 60 years and over).
“Today’s launch of the NRM will see IOM support the government of The Gambia in meeting the specific needs of vulnerable migrants”. She said, “All stakeholders have a very important role to play in the identification and referral of victims; without identification and referral there can ultimately be no justice for those that fall victim and no deterrent for those that profit from such a heinous crime”.
Nagano applauded the government of the Gambia especially ministry of Women, children and social welfare for the partnership, support and leadership in the development of the NRM.
For her, Fatou Kinteh Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare during her opening statement highlighted on the need to assist vulnerable migrants as majority of them needs urgent medical attention and technical support. She said the launch of the NRM is to strengthening government’s effort in the protections and reintegration of migrants.
Other speakers include; Minister women, children and social welfare, US Ambassador and EU Ambassador to the Gambia.
by Adam Drammeh.