By Edrissa Jallow reporting from Kerr Mot Ali, Senegal
Dozens of Gambians who were “deported” from their homeland in 2009 during former President Jammeh’s regime are still seeking refuge at Kerr Mot Ali in Senegal. The community of “deported” Gambians from Kerr Mot Ali in Gambia are urging the current government to facilitate their safe return from across the border to continue farming in their homeland. Currently, their homes and farmlands are occupied by people who they claim are “non-Gambians”.
Our reporter is currently engaging the community of victims at Kerr Mot Ali in Senegal facilitated by the Women’s Association for Victims’ Empowerment (WAVE) to hear the challenges affecting their basic activities and to provide support to them from a group of civil society advocates and a psychologist.
According to the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) “President Jammeh issued Executive directives authorising the infringement of the rights of religious groups and communities including the Ahmadiyya Jamaat and the Ndigal Sect of Kerr Mot”.
The TRRC is a defunct Commission which investigated the human rights violations that took place during the leadership of former President Jammeh from 1994 to 2016. The Commission conducted investigations and public hearings and submitted its report and recommendations to the Government who accepted most of the recommendations.
One of the recommendations is for “the members of the Ndiggal Sect still living in exile in Senegal should be returned to live in Kerr Mot Ali (Gambia) and their properties returned to them. The government should enforce the judgement obtained by members of the Sect in the High Court of The Gambia”.
In response to this, “the Government notes the recommendation of the TRRC with regards to the enforcement of the Judgement of The High Court of The Gambia obtained by members of the sect. While reiterating its respect for judicial pronouncements the Government notes that prior reconciliation and social cohesion activities are essential as a precursor to the comprehensive implementation of the Judgment”.
WAVE has been conducting a series of activities in collaboration with numerous authorities and local partners to facilitate the social cohesion necessary to facilitate the return of Kerr Mot Ali Gambia victims currently in exile. The activities they are currently conducting are one of them.
One of the victims currently in exile by the name of Tula Seck Ousam told our reporter how she lost all her properties and assets. According to Tula Seck, it’s been a challenging decade for her and the family. Tula’s exiled home is a few meters away from her damaged compound.
“Lack of farmland is what is making us sit throughout the day. We don’t have farmland to farm, we don’t have any work to do… the assets including sheep, we have lost everything. We can’t explain everything to the people,” said Tula Seck.
According to her, they have nowhere to dump their trash because “it will be on someone’s farmland”.
Above is a Google satellite image edited by our reporter, depicting Kerr Mot Ali of Senegal and Kerr Mot Ali Gambia. Currently, exiled Kerr Mot Ali Gambians are residing in Senegal just across the Senegal-Gambia Border. Prior to their exile Kerr Mot Ali Gambians used to reside in the Gambian side of the border where the blue box is shown.
Calling on the government to assist them Tula Seck wants the Government to “come to [their] aid, we want to go back [home] and get our farmlands back to farm”. Recalling her traumatic forceful deportation, Tula Seck stated that they were attacked mid-afternoon and she lost a house she just completed building after it was “smashed down by Gambian paramilitaries along with those people [non-Gambians who currently occupied their houses]”.
Below are some links to articles published by Gainako Online News on the “Deported” Kerr Mott Ali Gambians living across the border.