Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The Gambia office of the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) Thursday launched the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for the protection and assistance of vulnerable migrants in The Gambia, an official source said.
The initiative brought together key stakeholders from government institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and UN agencies working in the area of migrant protection and provision of vital assistance and reintegration support to vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking.
Fumiko Nagano, IOM chief of mission to The Gambia, said large numbers of Gambian men, women and children had been taking the precarious journey north in the hope of reaching Europe.
She said IOM and the government of The Gambia had been working to facilitate the assisted voluntary return of those who left and became stranded and very vulnerable in the different transit countries.
“From January, 2017, to December 2019, this collaboration has resulted in the return of more than 5,000 returnees, mainly from Libya, Niger, Mali and North Africa. Several returnees have been identified as having vulnerabilities, including: 204 cases of returnees with health needs, 158 vulnerable female returnees, 56 identified victims of trafficking, 33 cases of unaccompanied and separated migrant children (UASC) and 14 cases of returnees that are elderly (aged 60 years and over),” she disclosed.
According to her, Thursday’s launch of the NRM will see IOM support the government of The Gambia in meeting the specific needs of vulnerable migrants.
“These migrants comprise victims of trafficking: unaccompanied and separated children, migrants with health needs (incl. mental health & psychosocial needs), stranded migrants, elderly returnees, returnees with disabilities, single parent returnees, asylum seekers and women,” she added.
She also said the NRM initiative was also complimentary to the recent launch of the National Coordination Mechanism on Migration (NCM), with the ultimate objective of strengthening the government of The Gambia’s migration governance system.
She further said the NCM embodied the whole of government approach to migration governance through a government-led inter-agency coordination platform.
“This platform is expected to progressively bring policy coherence and ultimately joint long-term actions by the various government and non-government agencies, civil society, academia and the media involved in migration related interventions.
“Today’s launch of the National Referral Mechanism is a clear testament to the application of a whole-of- government approach to addressing protection of and assistance to vulnerable migrants,” Nagano pointed out.
According her, the National Referral Mechanism will bring together and strengthen multidisciplinary protection services through targeted capacity building and the development of standardized guidelines for all service providers to identify and refer vulnerable returning migrants and victims of trafficking.
“It is our hope that all relevant stakeholders - government ministries, UN agencies, international organization and civil society organizations - will focus their expertise and experience on the development of an effective and sustainable mechanism.
“Indeed, all stakeholders have a very important role to play in the identification and referral of vulnerable migrants, particularly victims of trafficking.
“Without identification and referral, there can ultimately be no justice for those that fall victim to trafficking in persons and no deterrent for those that profit from such a heinous crime,” she said
-0- PANA MSS/RA 6Feb2020