The UN Network on Migration in The Gambia has launched a major project to support communities living, working or traveling along the northern and southern parts of both The Gambia and Senegal border (the Trans-Gambia corridor).

It seeks to mitigate migration challenges and create better skills development and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, women and children.

The project “Addressing the drivers and causes of migration-related vulnerabilities among border communities along the Trans-Gambia transport corridor” is funded by the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (MMPTF) to the tune of $2.35 million.

Running until December 2024, the project’s activities aim to empower women, youth and children to navigate borders safely by engaging less in irregular forms of migration, knowing their rights, and claiming them by benefitting from improved safeguarding of their rights through border authorities. 

The project addresses the challenges of security, safety, and prosperity in target communities, in connection to the broader national development agenda.

Speaking at the launch Seyaka Sonko, Minister of Interior, said: “Given that The Gambia is a country of transit and destination for an increasing number of migrants, there is a need for improved capacity to manage borders to meet their critical and growing needs.”

The UN migration network comprises of 

the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

For the next three years, the four agencies will work with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE), the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare (MoGCSW) and other partners to strengthen the capacity of border authorities, increase awareness among women, youth and children of their rights, enhance the skills and opportunities for women, youth and children along the Senegambia bridge (Jarra West and Upper Baddibou districts).

Seraphine Wakana, UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia said: “maximizing the UN’s “delivering as one” approach, the joint programme brings together unique strengths of the four different UN agencies, each of which is needed to fully deliver on the overall objective of this programme.”

This comes in response to several challenges identified along the Trans-Gambia Corridor, including smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons, other forms of organized immigration crime, and harassment of women and girls along the Corridor.

“In as much as the Trans-Gambia Bridge has expedited movement, connected regions and even strengthened international cooperation, it has hugely impacted the lives and livelihood of ordinary people, cross border-traders, and women and youth along the transport corridor,” explained Mr. Hassan Gaye, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment.

“Notwithstanding the symbolic importance of the bridge both in terms of mobility and from an economic perspective, it also triggered unavoidable financial challenges on the part of the vendors,” added Ms. Fanta Faal, a female cross-border trader whose business has been affected since the ferry halted operations.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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