By Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
The Gambia Red-Cross Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Fire and Rescue Services and National Security Council headed by the Coalition Reconciliation Council on Sunday, 22nd January, 2017 embarked on a peace trip to facilitate the coming back of the refugees in the neighbouring countries back to The Gambia free of charge.
The task force is formed in order to help and coordinate the safe coming of both Gambians and non Gambians back home that left the country due to the political impasse. The names of those who fled the country were registered to make the process of coming back easier. Some of the returnees came back unhealthy, while some suffer from diarrhea and others appear weak.
At the ferry terminal, exactly at the hour 11:10AM, upon our crossing to the Banjul terminal, more than 2,000 returnees came back fatigue, hungry, agitated, sick and stranded. It was congested with vulnerable women, pregnant mothers and children who were absorbed with tiredness including the elderly and their coming back means they have confident that there is peace in the country.
Buses were deployed to all the borders, Amdallai, Karang, Farafenni border Kerr Ayoub, Senoba at Soma border for the returnees by Maleh Sallah the Vice Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Fire Service also deployed buses together with the Police Force.
At Karang, the United Nation High Commission for Refugees and the Senegalese red-cross team took good care of the returnees, providing them with houses and their daily meals. The people of Karang acknowledged their fellow Gambians saying that they have never complain about the food that they have been giving them and did not cause any problem for the six days they have stayed there.
It was revealed that two pregnant women who fled from Gambia gave birth at the Karang health Center, one with twins and the other had one child. However it was also reported that a Gambian died at Sokone.
Mr. Abdoulie Camara, a public health emergency and disaster coordinator for Ministry of health and social welfare noted that the exercise is about humanitarian preparedness and response.
He said the Ministry invited their partners like the UNICEF, National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), World Health Organization (W.H.O), Gambia Red-Cross Society (G.R.C.S), that they have allocated extra ambulances to all the hospitals and major health centres both public and private to facilitate staff movement and other health workers to and from work and also boost referral services so that services will not be interrupted and also for the security of the health workers.
He added that partners supported this exercise, medical and non-medical items and extra mattresses were also ositioned at the hospitals and other health centres so as to support trauma cases and other casualties.
Madam Fatou B. Gaye the Secretary General for the Gambia Red-cross Society asserted that they are doing the registration for the returnees and the collaboration partners are looking at their health status especially those coming with diarrhea, fever and other complicated conditions, pregnant women were also taken care of.
She revealed that some organizations helped to supply them with bottles of water for the returnees while others promised to supply water and biscuit to sustain the returnees.