NAYCONF delegates call on authorities to intensify fight against drug abuse
By Sulayman Waan
Several delegates at the ongoing National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) in the City of Banjul have called on Government through the Ministry of Interior to reinforce efforts in combating drug abuse in the country.
The session provided participants with the opportunity to further discuss ways and means of combating drug abuse to ensure productive youth in the tiny West African nation.
Substance abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.
In June 2022, the Ministry of Interior stated that The Gambia registered 1,698 illicit drug cases involving 1,699 accused persons from 2020 to date.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-The Gambia (DLEAG) has apprehended more than 6 tons of cannabis, close to a quarter ton of hashish, almost 3 tons of cocaine, and a significant amount of controlled and prohibited drugs ranging from diazepam, clonazepam, ecstasy, methamphetamine, skunk, hush, among others.
However, the youth called for reinforcement in the fighting against drug abuse in The Gambia.
In an interactive discussion at the Peace, Security, and Substance Abuse conference, Ndey Fatou Nying, a delegate said drug abuse has a great impact on the peace and security of the country, justifying that several criminal activities are happening as a result of drug abuse.
She called on authorities to intensify efforts to combat drugs to ensure productive youth in society.
Fanta Darboe, a delegate from West Coast Region said a series of crimes happen in society are due to rampant usage of drugs. She stated that many young people are into stealing invaluable materials just to purchase drugs which she said often cause conflict between victims and relatives of thieves.
“Many young people are not comfortable using drugs at their homes. So, they often go to the beaches to smoke cannabis. One day, I went to the beach with a friend but I was surprised to meet young people from my area smoking cannabis. I was surprised and could not spend much time there. I had to return home,” she narrated.
However, she called on Gambians to collectively work together to combat drug abuse in the country.
Jainaba Sanneh, a delegate from Banjul expressed concern over the importation of tobacco into The Gambia knowing that smoking kills.
Sanneh opined that the Government should introduce tobacco in the country’s syllabus to enable youngsters know the negative effects of drugs on human health.
Concerning cannabis, she said the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-The Gambia (DLEAG) should endeavor to apprehend drug cartels instead of focusing only on drug users.
Aji Marie Saine, another delegate said there is a greater need for parents to care for their children, saying drug addiction mainly started from an early age.
“Drug addicts sending children to buy drugs for them is the major factor responsible of children involvement into drugs,” she added.
However, she also said measures should be put in place to eliminate drug abuse in the country.
“It is the responsibility of parents to take care of their children but many will not do that until their children are affected by drug abuse,” said Amadou Y. Colley, from the Ministry of Interior.
Mr. Colley further said that there are several drugs in the country different from cannabis and tobacco. Therefore, he opined that all should work together in getting rid of drug dealers in society.
“Drug abuse is everybody’s business. So, all should fight it collectively,” he added.
Alhagie Jarju, a delegate from West Coast Region said to turn young people away from the drug business the Government should create more job opportunities for youth. “Many young people get into drugs due to lacked of opportunities in the country,” he added.