NYC says shipwreck was avoidable, asks government to investigate boat's departure from Gambia

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s youth coordinating and supervising agency -National Youth Council- said it is saddened and bereaved by the news of the tragic boat accident in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Mauritania on 5th December 2019 that led to the dead of 52 Gambians.
The agency said on Thursday that it is its firm conviction that the incident was avoidable and tasked the government to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding the departure of the boat from The Gambia and to take appropriate legal and remedial actions.
Earlier on Thursday, the United Nations migration agency –IOM- reported the incident, saying the boat that was carrying an estimated 150 migrants left The Gambia a week ago and capsized after it got stank as it approached the coast of Mauritania on Wednesday.
Eighty-three others, including two women and at least 10 minors are reported to have managed to swim to shore and are now receiving medical assistance.
Gambia government confirmed in a statement on Thursday that 52 of its citizens have died in the boat accident, while several others who escaped were receiving care.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the tragic boat accident off the coast of Mauritania that claimed the lives of many Gambians. President Adama Barrow has earlier been briefed that the boat originated from Barra, North Bank Region, and fifty-two (52) Gambians lost their lives whiles eighty (80) others survived,” the statement said.
But the youth agency said while it regrets and mourn the irreplaceable loss to The Gambia, it maintains a firm conviction that it was avoidable and called on the Government to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding the departure of the boat from The Gambia and take appropriate legal and remedial actions.
It expressed heartfelt condolence to the families of departed souls and prayed for Allah to give them the fortitude and strength to bear the great loss; not only to the affected families but the entire nation.
The country’s youth agency also asked the government to priorities and increase investment in youth development particularly employment creation and ensure proper coordination and accountability for resource allocated or mobilized for migration management.
“Meanwhile, we encourage young people to be cautious of criminal groups engage in human smuggling and trafficking of vulnerable persons.  May the gentle soul of our departed brothers and sisters rest in eternal peace.”
Several Gambian young people who run from the country to chase after greener pasture in Europe and other Western nations through life and death gamble in the high seas have lost their lives while scores are still determined to go. The country is increasingly seeing its villages devoid of young men as they are “Going the Back Way” and productive agriculture is suffering as a result.
There have been many reports of migrants suffering robberies, violence, rape and even death, and there are stories of young Gambian’s who have never been heard of again, Gambian families are effectively funding to enable their sons and some daughters to go on a gamble with life through the high seas.
Government of the tiny West African nation is facing daunting challenges in convincing its young people to stay in the country in a struggling economy that was plunged into bankruptcy during the rule of the former military dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Gambia’s main economic activities is agriculture and tourism. 80 percent of the population of just over 2 million people, depend on agriculture for food and cash income. The farming economy is the only means of income creation for the majority of rural families most of whom live below the poverty line.
Since the country’s past government up to the coming of the Adama Barrow administration in 2016, unemployment continues to increase, which frustrate many young people to take to go on a gamble with life.

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