Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Immigration officials in Banjul are preparing to deport five leaders of the refugee community in The Gambia.
Mr. Ibrahim M.B. Konneh (Liberian), Mr. Diomande Loua (Ivoirian), Mr. Laurent Ditta, (Senegalese/Cassamance), Mr. Jeremye Blabou and Mr. Rodrigue Avissey (Togolese), are being detained by officials at the Tanji Immigration Post, Kombo North District, West Coast Region, before their deportation to their respective home countries.
Sources told PANA on Friday that they were arrested on 20 March 20, 2012 by the Police in connection to an April 2011 letter they wrote to President Yahya Jammeh, seeking his intervention in the affairs of the protection of refugees.
In the letter, they expressed disappointment at how their affairs had been handled by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Banjul.
The five claim that “over the years, refugees have not been provided budgetary assistance in food and shelter or allowances by the Office of the UNHCR".
They alleged that the UNHCR Office had constantly said that funds were only available for basic education and medical cases, and these applied to refugee children only.
They also bemoaned the lack of scholarship to attend the University of the Gambia, while they were neither allowed to work nor advocate for their rights.
The letter also indicated that the refugees were yet to find solutions to their needs or cases associated with sexual assault, abuse of women and mental health problems emanating from trauma and sicknesses.
They called for "transparency and equality" saying "we need fairness and justice to prevail" and called for president Jammeh's direct involvement in finding a durable solution to the problems.
UNHCR Head of Mission in Banjul, Mr. Saikou Saho, confirmed the detention of five refugees saying that he had appealed to the authorities to release them as they wrote the letter out of frustration.
-0- PANA MSS/MA 1June2012