Gambia to accept mass deportation of its citizens in Europe- Activist

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By: Foday Manneh

Following the arrival of a group of 25 deportees from Europe, mainly from Germany, on Thursday, February 2, 2023, a migration activist, Yahya Sonko, told the Alkamba Times that the Gambia government would continue to accept its citizens every two months from the European Union as per the ‘good practice’ deal.

Mr. Sonko said the trend, which started in 2018, is enforced by an agreement document called the “Good Practice” signed between the Gambia and the EU.

According to Sonko, the document allows the EU to deport Gambia citizens in large numbers every month while requesting the Gambia to accept the flights, but that seems impossible for the West African nation, who instead preferred to receive a flight every two months.

“This is exactly what is happening. The last mass deportation was on November 11, 2022, when 25 Gambians were sent back home. Again in February 2023, another 25 people were deported,” Sonko said.

However, the Gambia government earlier denied signing this agreement— forcing rights activists to probe into the matter — eventually leading to the document’s leaking.

“They signed this document sometime in April 2018 but denied doing so. It was when some activists stood up, then the document got leaked and published by the EU,” Sonko added.

“EU is relying on this consensus with the Gambia to deport these people. The German government will tell you any Gambian citizen who requested asylum and exhausted all their legal chances of staying in Germany will be deported based on the agreement,” he said.

However, according to Sonko, the Gambia government is not denying these realities now.

Two years ago, the Interior Minister of Baden-Württemberg said more than 2600 Gambians were ready for deportation if the Gambia government gave Germany a flight landing permit.

Meanwhile, in 2019, a massive demonstration by the Gambia Refugee Association in Europe forced the EU and the Gambia to announce a moratorium on deportation until further notice.

A year later, the embargo was lifted, which was not announced by the Gambia government; instead, the EU declared to start repatriating Gambians again, said Sonko.

“The mass deportation happens every two months, but Germany is doing individual deportation weekly. They are arresting individual Gambian citizens and putting them on commercial flights back to the Gambia,” he said.

Sonko, however, stressed that the priority of the government should be to provide a proper integration mechanism for the deportees in their societies to ensure they contribute to the peace and security of the country while challenging families and relatives to accept them not as losers.

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