Royal Visit Unearths Plight Of Gambia’s Forgotten War Veterans

By Abdoulie John

As Prince Charles and wife concluded Friday a three-day visit to Gambia, the plight of Second World War veterans has started hanging over the Royal Couple’s West African tour that began on October 31st and will end on November 8. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are scheduled to visit Ghana and Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country.

Gambians who took part in the fight to end the hegemony of the Axis Powers (the Coalition led by Germany, Italy and Japan) during Second World War are living in deplorable conditions while their counterparts in Europe are in a much better situation.

Prince Charles and Camilla visited Thursday Fajara-based war cemetery, which is built and maintained by the Commonwealth. A group of veterans braved the sun to welcome His Highness. They had the opportunity to briefly interact with the Royal Couple.

The Gambia Legion Secretary General, Pa Modou Faal, confided to this reporter six war veterans are still alive, adding that a good number of ex-home guards are also part of their association.

Faal made it clear that the British gov’t is not paying pensions, but was quick to add that veterans can apply for welfare assistance.

“When you apply for welfare assistance, we do all the paperwork here and send it to the United Kingdom. If it is approved, the money is sent,” Pa Modou Faal emphasized.

When asked whether they are benefitting any medical assistance from the Medical Research Council (MRC) unit in the country, he responded in the negative.

He disclosed that the association receives a yearly medical grant amounting to £2000 pounds in order for them to be to access health care. However, he deplored the fact that the amount cannot cover all of them.

“Gambia gov’t is providing free medical care to the veterans. They are not charged when they go to any public health facility,” he said. “But If there are instances where gov’t cannot afford to take of them, the association comes in to solve the problem.”

He decried the ongoing injustice and revealed that the welfare assistance they received never exceeds D2,000 dalasis.

Written by Abdoulie JOHN

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