Gambia + 1 more

The Gambia: Communal Violence DREF Operation n° MDRGM013 - Final Report



Description of the disaster

On 15 March 2021, a Senegalese migrant, accused of stealing, allegedly killed a Gambian man who confronted him. The alleged murderer was later apprehended by the police. This created a conflict within the 2 communities (Gambian and Senegalese) which abruptly grew into a wild fight and ended up in violence in the fishing village of Sanyang. Historically, the Senegalese migrants have long settled in Sanyang/Tanji village, earning a living through fishing and trading activities and generally had a good relationship with the host population. However, with the eruption of this episode of violence, it created a complex situation as a community was seeking revenge against the other based on the tragic loss of life which had occurred. The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) received an alert from Gambian Immigration Department (GID) concerning the eruption of the tensions on same day. Host communities were already reacting to the incident by destroying livelihood materials of both the Gambian businesses and that of the Senegalese community properties, assets and fishing boats. It resulted to members of this community fleeing in successive waves to the nearby coastal village of Batokunku (approximately 10 Km to the North). Some of them made the journey by sea. The displaced persons were sheltered in a nursery school in Batokunku, where they were relatively safe, but with limited freedom of movement.

A joint assessment report from the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) of the Gambia and GRCS revealed that 696 Senegalese migrants and host community members (105 households) were affected by the violence and needed urgent support to prevent further damages into their lives and livelihoods. The numbers of victims and incidents were increasing day by day due to the inter-binding nature of the two communities. The report further stated that a total of 256 Senegalese were seeking refuge into school premises in Batokunku, Gunjur, Sambouya and Brufut, reportedly sheltering there as of 20 March 2021, while others were hosted in other compounds across Batokunku village. Indeed, in addition to the displaced migrant families, some 400 people from the host community (50 households) were hosting the migrants, sharing the available food they had for their families.

It was also noticed that most affected people were women and children. Some were placed in hidden locations for safety. The Gambian law enforcement actors conducted a large-scale investigation operation, using tear gas and physical power to arrest many local residents who took part in the conflict (including large number of youths in Sanyang and other nearby locations). Their arrests resulted to protestation of host population to free their young men and women who supposedly participated in the violence. An undetermined number of local youths were apprehended by the Police. A meeting between the Sanyang village elders, village development committee, the NAM (Member of Parliament) of Kombo South and representatives of the Senegalese community was held on 19 March 2021 with a common message for peace and reconciliation and for the Senegalese to return to Sanyang and surroundings into their respective homes and jobs. Decision was eventually made to restore peace and stability.

Based on the needs and capacity of The Gambia Red Cross Society to respond to the situation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), through the Sahel Country Cluster Delegation launched a DREF operation on 25 March 2021, for CHF 96,478 to address the urgent needs of 1,096 people including 696 affected migrants (105 households) and another 400 people from host community in Batokunku (50 households). The DREF operation focused on one geographic region (West Coast Region).