The Gambia must be prepared to receive returning citizens

The Gambia must be prepared to receive returning citizens, especially those on the verge of deportation from Europe or the US, said Dr. Ousman Gajigo, a development economist.

His comments were in reaction to those of Gambian National Assembly Member Ousman Sillah, who called for bilateral solutions on irregular migrants in Europe. While in Germany, he urged the European Union (EU) to suspend the deportation of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected.

“These deportations will continue and the rate will increase. Now is not the time to make unrealistic demands,” he said. He urged Sillah to instead ensure that the government is prepared for the “thousands of Gambians who are soon to be deported.”

Dr. Gajigo added that the number of deportees will continue to rise as many filing for asylum said they were fleeing the Yayha Jammeh regime, but the former leader is no longer in power and remains in exile.

“Italy has processed 37,215 Gambian asylum applications between 2008 and 2017. Even if only a fraction of these individuals are deported, it would be a highly significant figure,” he said. With each wave of deportations from the US and Europe, he added that the need for support is becoming greater. In 2016, the US said it would deport 2,000 Gambians, and in 2017, Germany said it would deport 1,500 Gambians.

“Deportation is a traumatic experience and something many people can empathise with even without firsthand experience. Some of these individuals have been separated from families and uprooted from places they have come to consider as their homes.” Gajigo said.

However, the government has a responsibility to cooperate in cases of deportation, especially when their nationality is not in doubt, nor do they risk persecution from their government when they return home.

“Not cooperating in the deportation of its nationals would actually mean a greater injustice to most nationals abroad. Let’s not forget that there are hundreds of thousands of Gambians living in foreign countries. Most of these Gambians are law-abiding and face little threat of being deported,” he said.

He urged the Gambian government to help integrate the deportees.

TMP – 19/12/2018