NEW YORK, JANUARY 19 – On the day of the inauguration in Dakar, Senegal, of Adama Barrow as the new president of Gambia, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution expressing “full support” to the new leader and calling on former President Yahya Jammeh to step down, condemning his attempts to usurp power.
Shortly after the Council vote following Barrow’s oath of office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegalese troops entered Gambia in an effort to get its former leader Jammeh to step down and “to ensure Adama Barrow assumes power as the country’s new president”, a Senegalese army spokesman said.
Italy voted in favour of the resolution “in the belief that this Council must make its voice heard in these crucial hours for the future of the Country and the stability of the region”, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi said.
The vote was the first of Italy’s mandate as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. The Ambassador expressed full support to the preventive diplomacy efforts which the International Community has been engaging in, and commended the mediation of ECOWAS, led by the Presidents of Nigeria, Liberia and former president of Ghana, as well as the strong support shown by the AU Peace and Security Council and the role played by the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Chambas: “All this is a testament to African ownership and leadership”, Cardi observed, adding how all this “once again demonstrates the importance, stressed by the Secretary general Antonio Guterres himself, of rapid and effective action and of pursuing political solutions to crises”.
According to Italian sources at the UN, Italy’s commitment to the resolution is a testament to the country’s belief that the stabilization of West Africa will have a positive impact in mitigating and containing the tensions whose impact is felt in the Mediterranean in terms of illicit trafficking, terrorism, criminality.
With a population of only 1.9 million, Gambian nationals made up 5% of the total 153, 850 people who arrived by sea to Italy, and 10% of Italy’s asylum applications in 2015. Comparatively, UNHCR figures show that there are only 41 recognised Gambian refugees in Senegal, with 177 asylum applications pending in 2014. In 2015, the number of Gambians lodging asylum claims in Senegal was even less, with only 102 applications. The huge disparity of figures suggests that the majority of Gambian refugees and other irregular migrants continue their journeys Northwards. (@OnuItalia)