By Ishmael Dumbuya
Advocacy Network Against Irregular Migration (ANAIM) has observed that the heightened political tension in the country is largely contributing to the increase in the number of youth embarking on irregular migration.
Executive Director and Founder ANAIM, Sheku Bangura, reiterated that the issue of irregular migration has worsened over the years largely because of the political instability in the country.
He disclosed a good number of Sierra Leonean migrants are stranded in North Africa and the Middle East.
“ANAIM is also worried about the growing political tension especially between officials and sympathisers of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress Party (APC). After the June 24 elections, we have realised a further divide among Sierra Leoneans which has directly impelled more youth to embark on a deadly journey known as irregular migration,” he emphasized.
He maintained that smugglers were now fully manipulating the situation to their advantage by trafficking vulnerable youths to a dangerous journey that exposes youths to death, slavery and other life-threatening risks.
He called on international organizations and embassies in Freetown to help initiate peaceful settlement between the two main political parties in the country; the APC and the SLPP.
“As an organization that advocates on behalf of Sierra Leonean migrants across the globe, we are troubled by the continuous calls and messages we are receiving from migrants in the Arab States, most of whom complained being enslaved, imprisoned and tortured. They also complained seizure of their passports and other documents by wicked citizens of those countries,” Bangura stressed.
He therefore called on the Sierra Leone Police, border guards, and everyone to tighten up surveillance against smugglers who are currently exploiting the present difficulty to their advantage.
Bangura concluded by appealing to the president and his government to repatriate thousands of Sierra Leonean stranded migrants in North Africa and Middle East.
“As a President that put human capital at the forefront of his government development agenda, we are of the conviction that President Bio, as he did in Lebanon in 2020 will also consider evacuating all Sierra Leoneans presently stranded abroad,” he appealed.
ANAIM urged young Sierra Leoneans, home and abroad to support the youthful appointees in President Bio’s cabinet so that they can succeed in driving the country to pathway we all wanted it.
“We believe that those youthful appointees would work in line with the aspirations of the general Sierra Leonean youths,” he expressed hope.