Gambian migrant commits suicide after rejected asylum application

A 22-year-old Gambian has committed suicide after his application for political asylum in Italy was rejected.

The man, identified as Amadou Jawo, arrived in Italy two years ago to apply for political asylum. Amadou’s body was found in an apartment he shared with other Gambians in Castellaneta Marina near Taranto.

Babele, an organisation supporting non-EU citizens living in Europe, released a statement on the matter. “The young man had received a denial to the application for political asylum and could no longer remain in Italy. He wanted to return to Africa, but he was afraid of being seen as a failure and felt embarrassed. He thought he didn’t have a choice,” the statement read. It has also been reported that Jawo was suffering from psychological distress.

He was one of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans who risk their lives to journey through the Sahara desert and Libya in the hopes of crossing the Mediterranean and reaching Europe.

A joint migration study conducted by Action Aid International-The Gambia and Action Aid-Denmark entitled “How Can The Gambia Better Address Migration and Its Development Challenges revealed that nearly 8,681 Gambians reached the shores of Europe by sea between January 2017 and March 2018. The same report shows that Gambians were the fifth largest irregular migrant population in Spain and third in Italy. On Facebook, Gambians reacted to the news. Expressing disappointment, one commentator said, “Many Gambians in Europe are feeling depressed because… everywhere we seek asylum they reject the 80% of us.”

Another commenter suggested that the stigma and discrimination that Gambian returnees face when they are repatriated adds immense pressure even to those who are willing to return.

Psychological distress among migrants is widespread, according to several aid agencies. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in October 2017 that a mental health emergency had emerged in the camps on the Greek islands, due to poor living conditions, neglect and violence, with rising numbers of people attempting suicide.

TMP – 16/11/2018