Press Statement: The UN Agencies Update President Barrow on Child Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation

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A delegation of UN bodies made a courtesy call on His Excellency, President Adama Barrow. In her remark the UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Director, Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier reaffirmed UNICEF’s commitment to continue to support the new government’s agenda. Amongst other issues, she urged the government to invest in children and youths and provide employment creation that will strengthen social protection as well as promote youth empowerment. She commended The Gambia for meeting the target in controlling open defecation but emphasized the need to consolidate the gains made. Ms. Poirier reiterated the importance of continuing the fight against malaria, end child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/FC.)

UNFPA Regional Director of West and Central Africa, Mr. Mabingue Ngom said UN is one family and their visit was to give support to The Gambia. The discussions included the need for partnership in resource mobilization. Mr. Ngom recalled the importance the African Union -AU attaches to the demographic dividend and how it can help society. He said in partnership with NEPAD, UNFPA is committed to investing in young people, thus the need for the government to develop a road map. He requested for government to end Child Marriage and FGM as matter of urgency to end century old cultural practices.

In his response, President Barrow informed the UN team that his government will embark on sectoral reforms but added that good laws will be maintained.

President lamented on the negative consequences of Child Marriage and FGM, from a health point of view but noted that these are culturally sensitive issues. He called for the population to be encouraged to end the practices. President Barrow also asserted that the government will cooperate with UN bodies and come up with laws that will be sustained.

In response to the youth empowerment issue, President Barrow said The Gambia has changed and youths, who form 60% of population, were active in the change process in bringing in the new government. The Gambian leader called for partnership to create employment for youths, and he urged the partners to move from what he puts as “commitment to action” for youths to realize their contribution in political affairs. President Barrow appreciated the contribution of the youths in bringing about political change and asserted “without them it would not have been easy. They were our foot soldiers and provided protection to the political leaders.” He pledged his government’s political will to pursue the issues raised during the courtesy call.

The UN Country team that accompanied the West and Central Africa Regional Directors included UNDP Resident Coordinator, Ade Lakoetje, UNICEF Representative, Sara Beysolow Nyarti, UNFPA Head of Office in the Gambia, Kunle Adeniyi and other local UN system officials.

Turkish Cooperation Coordination Agency calls on Gambian Leader

On a separate engagement, President Barrow received the representative of the Turkish Cooperation Coordinating Agency for Endowment Diyanet Foundation based in Sudan. He was accompanied by the Religious Affairs Adviser, Office of the President, Honourable Dembo Bojang, the President of the Supreme Islamic Council and delegation. The President was briefed on their activities including in supporting orphans, and was informed that more support will be provided during the month of Ramadan.

Supreme Islamic Council Head also took the opportunity to brief President Barrow on a recent visit to the Kingdom of Morocco at the invitation of the King Muhammed VI. He reported that the visit was to coordinate Endowment fund for Africa and the need to establish a local office to coordinate the activities of the Moroccan King’s intervention in helping 33 African countries in the Kingdom’s new strategy of inward looking.

President Barrow Says his Government will work with Religious Leaders to Promote Peace.

President Adama Barrow said leaders come and go but the state remains and urged the religious leaders to continue to pray for peace to prevail in the country. He made these remarks during a courtesy call by Banjul Muslim Elders Committee led by Imam Ratib of Banjul, Alhajie Cherno Kah.

Speaking on the relationship with Senegal, President Barrow reassured them of his commitment to continue to work and consult his counterpart on bilateral relations to further cement the ties.

On the importance of religion, the Gambian leader asserted that it was in recognition of the importance of religion that he appointed an adviser on religious affairs in the anal of Gambian history. He pledged that his government will work with religious leaders to promote peace.

The President thanked Imam Kah and his delegation for calling on him during the impasse and taking a stand to defend the truth and the country, which he said increased confidence on their role in society.  He added that it is one of the reasons why in Africa there is believe in respect for elder.

On his part, Imam Ratib, Alhajie Cherno Kah said the courtesy call was meant to renew their commitment to support the President and his government.  He expressed appreciation about the relationship that exists with Senegal. He requested for the strengthening of the relationship by maintaining a link with the religious bodies in Senegal. This, he argued will promote peace and unity as well as consult on issues of common interest such as border closures.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Committee, Alhajie Alieu Mboge expressed satisfaction with the governance situation in the Gambia. The visit he said was to maintain a link between the Community Elders and the President to consult on issues of interest to Gambians. Mr. Mboge also briefed the meeting on the goal of the establishment of the Banjul Muslim Elders Committee 117 years ago, to promote religion and issues of concern to the Muslims in Banjul. He added that the committee continues to work in partnership with the Supreme Islamic Council. The creation of a Religious Adviser position under the Office of the President was also appreciated.

Banjul Muslim Elders Committee also reported on their annual activities during the month of Ramadan and other planned activities. They informed the President that the Committee is now expanded to include the Larso Wharf mosque committee elders.

Imam Foday Kabba Dumbuya speaking on behalf of his community elders expressed solidarity with the Banjul Muslim Elders Committee and that they have manifested it by working together on their planned Ramadan programmes and pledged to continue working together.

The delegation was accompanied to State House by Religious Affairs Adviser to the President, Honourable Dembo Bojang.

Amie Bojang-Sissoho
Director of Press and Public Relations

For: Secretary General
CC: Media Houses
Web Manager – State House Website

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