Gambians in Turkey Face Difficulties as Undocumented Migrants Increase

In 2018, President Barrow and Erdogan signed various bilateral agreements in Ankara during a visit by the Gambian leader.

Turkey is becoming the new hub for many seeking a route to Europe as more Gambian youths venture abroad in search of job opportunities but scores are stuck at the Irregular Migration Corridor between the EU and Turkey.

An investigation launched by Alkamba Times reveals that more Gambians are arriving in Turkey with the hope of finding their way to Europe as traffickers unveil new Irregular migration routes.

TAT investigations revealed that hundreds of Gambians are currently stranded in Turkey while many are forced to seek hard jobs with poor wages.

“A Schengen visa is hard to get, So many Gambians are seizing the opportunity to get to Europe through the popular turkey -Greece, route,” a source in Turkey told Alkamba Times.

The outbreak of covid19 pushed many European countries to close their Diplomatic offices, while Turkey was open for visas.

Our Investigations further reveal that The number of Gambian migrants in Turkey has increased tenfold in recent years.

‘Many have made it to their dream countries, but some are still trapped in different cities across Turkey including Istanbul which is the most economically strong city in Turkey. Many Gambians decided to look for better opportunities while their dreams of reaching Germany or other parts of Europe still await,” a Gambian migrant in Turkey familiar with the problem told TAT.


Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Tangara with his Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs

Turkey has been a hotspot for migrants, with very low resources compared to Germany and other Schengen countries, and many Gambians living in Istanbul end up working in factories doing 12-hour shifts with very low wages, or cargo business which are very popular in Istanbul.

Many Gambians couldn’t get residence permits or were not able to renew their papers due to the type of visas they came to Turkey with and the increase in residential permit fees, which cost around $300 Dollars is also affecting Gambian migrants no income.

Others could not return to the Gambia for years now and are scared to be trapped in a country where everything is expensive, and living conditions are getting harder by the day.

“Most Gambians in Turkey were either scammed or lured by false stories about opportunities in the country, which they never found. It has driven so many people towards the dangerous route to Greece and some who didn’t make it are still in detention centers in Izmir, Muğla, Aydın, and other cities,” a source further told TAT.

A few Gambian migrants have been already deported to the Gambia, while others are still being processed.


The Gambian Mission in Turkey is currently exploring solutions with the Turkish government to grant undocumented Gambians residential permits to work legally.

A similar deal was signed between Senegal and Turkey, which allowed Senegalese citizens to have legal documents to work in the near Eastern nation in Europe’s corridor.

In 2018, President Barrow and Erdogan signed various bilateral agreements in Ankara during a visit by the Gambian leader.

Turkey’s relations with the Gambia have been significantly strengthened under the Barrow administration with the two countries cooperating in commerce, education, economics, health, and security among other sectors.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and the tiny West African nation were established in 1965 following Gambia’s independence from Britain.

The two countries closely worked together at the International community level, sharing commitments at the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Turkey is also a member of the OIC, which The Gambia is poised to host this year.

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.


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