President Barrow with EU officials

(JollofNews) – President Adama Barrow of the Gambia Monday used his meeting with a delegation of European Union officials to called for the creation of jobs and other opportunities for Gambians youths to address the rising tides of illegal migration to Europe.

The Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest nations, with a population of just under two million. And yet its citizens have consistently ranked among the top five nationalities taking the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy.

The country is also ranks highest among sub-Saharan African countries in terms of the numbers of its migrants who are unaccompanied minors. In 2016, 13 per cent of unaccompanied children arriving in Italy were Gambian, according to UNICEF.

In total, nearly 12,000 Gambians arrived in Italy via the Mediterranean in 2016, a 36 percent increase from 2015.

Mr Barrow said his government recognizes that migration was a challenging issue, as young people leave for the West with the hope of better livelihoods.

He urged all stakeholders to engage in dialogue, as migration was a global problem that could be best addressed through job creation for the youth.  He called for investments that would create jobs to engage the youth in industrial development and in agriculture.

He said his administration would cooperate with the European Union on migration issues and create opportunities for the youth.

Mr Barrow’s government has made tackling irregular migration a priority. It plans to focus on creating jobs and training opportunities to reduce the 40 percent unemployment rate among young people, the main push factor behind the Gambia’s exodus.