Gambian National Assembly Member calls for bilateral solutions on irregular migrants in Europe

National Assembly Member for Banjul North, Ousman Sillah, has called on European governments suspend the forced repatriation of Gambians who have risked their lives and spent huge sums of money to reach Europe.

Speaking in the German City of Hamburg, Sillah appealed to European governments to provide some support to Gambian migrants currently living in asylum camps.

There should be a halt in any current operation of forced repatriation of these young people who had to risk their lives and spent so much in order to reach the shores of Europe.” For Gambians already in Europe, he added that receiving countries should be obliged to treat asylum seekers humanely.

Sillah is currently travelling in Europe to meet with Gambians and friends of The Gambia. He said a German national had told him that the country is experiencing a shrinking population due to low birth rates, adding that he thought Germany would benefit from an increase in the flow of migrants to meet rising demands in the labour market.

Gambians are some of the most common populations taking boats across the Mediterranean. Between January and October 2018, they made up seven percent of the arrivals in Spain, which is the sixth highest, after Morocco, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast and Algeria. Spain has received the highest number of irregular migrants this year, with over 57,000 arrivals as of 25 November 2018.

As most irregular migrants are not fleeing persecution or serious harm back in The Gambia, many asylum applications are rejected and The Gambians are asked to return home. This has resulted in suicide attempts, most recently by a 22-year-old Gambian in Italy in November 2018.

Back home, Sillah said it is also the responsibility of The Gambian government to create more favourable conditions and improve employment opportunities for young people who do not think they have a future at home.

He said: “It is the sacred duty of the government to invest in the young people so that they would not be leaving the country en masse for opportunities elsewhere.”

TMP – 30/11/2018

Photo credit.  Photo caption: Ousman Sillah, a Gambian National Assembly Member and an executive member of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), was elected in April 2017.