Thousands of Gambian migrants return home to start new lives

Since the launch of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in 2017, 3, 668 Gambian migrants have been brought back to The Gambia. The majority of these migrants have returned from Libya while others have been repatriated from Niger and a smaller number from Mali, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia.

Jalika is one of the many migrants who have been brought back to The Gambia after a dangerous journey across the desert with her 10-year-old daughter in an attempt to reach Europe. Jalika voluntarily returned to The Gambia from Niger in March 2018.  With support and assistance from IOM, Jalika is one of the many migrants who has been able to begin a new life in The Gambia. Jalika was given grocery goods which allowed her to open her own shop in The Gambia with support and assistance from IOM.

“I am happy to be back home safe and sound,” she said. “After some ups and downs, IOM helped me stabilize my income. I want to expand the shop with more goods and get my son to work in the shop.”

Through IOM’s reintegration assistance, Jalika and other returnees were able to attend counselling sessions tailored to vulnerable migrants. The counselling sessions helped IOM to understand the specific needs, interests and skills of Jalika and others, and in turn match them with available job opportunities in The Gambia.

Following the counselling sessions, Jalika and her colleagues were given assistance over a two to four week period in order to kick start and accelerate their businesses. Today, Jalika is one of the many returnees who have established their own business in The Gambia. According to IOM, around 90 per cent of assisted Gambian returnees have established their own microbusiness within the retail, construction and transport sectors.

Around two thirds of returnees have been empowered to start new lives in The Gambia as a result of reintegration assistance from IOM. Through the reintegration process, migrants are given medical and psychosocial support, as well as assistance to set up their own small businesses or access education and training opportunities.  

The Head of the EU Delegation to The Gambia, Ambassador Attila Lajos, said the Joint Initiative “serves a threefold purpose: saving lives by assisting those en route, offering voluntary return assistance to those who want it, and providing reintegration support to returning Gambian migrants and their communities.”

Lajos added, “Essentially, the Joint Initiative is about making sure that the migration process is safer and better managed, and that migrant rights and dignity are respected.”

TMP – 15/02/19

Photo: Gambian migrants are slowing returning home to begin new lives