Gambia's Jammeh criticises families of dead migrants

2015-05-15 14:54
Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)

Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Banjul - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has berated families sending migrants on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, suggesting they are not "true Muslims".

More than 5 000 migrants, many from Muslim-majority Gambia and its neighbours, have died in the past 18 months trying to cross into Europe, and African leaders have been criticised for not speaking out on the issue.

Jammeh broke his public silence late Thursday, acknowledging in an address on state-run television that "there were many funerals in the country a few weeks ago because a lot of people died in the Mediterranean".

"Those who paid for their sons and daughters to embark on this risky journey claimed their children would have died if they were still around," he said.

Economic hardships

"But if these people are true Muslims and really believe in what they are saying, then they should equally believe that their sons and daughters could have made it at home if they were ready to invest and work."

For years Libya has been a stepping stone for Africans seeking to get to Europe, fleeing conflict, economic hardship and instability often in rickety, unseaworthy vessels.

But the number of deaths has risen dramatically as boats operated by smugglers have capsized off Libya's coast, triggering alarm among European leaders seeking to halt the flow.

The UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency, estimates that around 60 000 men, women and children had braved the Mediterranean so far this year, more than 1 800 perishing in the attempt.

"We all saw on television Europeans complaining of economic hardship, yet still people in this country would pay for their sons and daughters to go and die in the Mediterranean Sea," Jammeh said.

Human rights abuses

The president did not announce any proposals for solving the crisis but suggested that the kind of work migrants were undertaking in Europe was already available at home.

"Some parents do not mind how their children earn their income in Europe, all they are interested in is the remittance sent to them," he said.

Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, has ruled the former British colony with an iron fist since seizing power in 1994.

The regime is frequently berated for human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, torture and the muzzling of journalists.

Sixty percent of the population live in "multi-dimensional poverty", a third surviving on $1.25 or less a day, according to the UN's 2013 Human Development Report.

Read more on:    yahya jammeh  |  gambia  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.