By Alagie Manneh
A chartered flight carrying 25 Gambians deported by Germany and other EU states arrived in the country on Friday afternoon.
According to Germany-based Gambian refugee activist, Yahya Sonko, the chartered flight left Munchen International Airport Thursday evening, inbound directly for The Gambia.
It is not clear under what condition the deportees, all male, arrived.
But Mr Sonko, who has been tracking the deportations since 2017, said that the government has not been providing any form of support to the deportees.
“Friday’s batch of returnees brings the number of deported Gambian migrants from the EU to more than 400 since 2017,” said Mr Sonko.
He said reintegrating has always been a serious challenge for the returnees.
“Almost all of them received very little or no support. The IOM only gives them about D3000 each. Some would not accept the money. The so-called integration packages that the IOM gives are usually for voluntary returnees, which is different from this case. Even if there are avenues where they can get help, most of these deportees are not aware of it,” he said.
Mr Sonko said the 25 deportees comprise mainly young Gambians in their late 20s. “Most of them are very young. I met only one of them who was reportedly in prison because of drugs. The others were caught in transit to other EU states, which they are not allowed to do as undocumented migrants,” he said.
The spokesperson of the Gambia Immigration Department, chief Supt Mamading Dibba, did not confirm the arrival of the chartered flight. “I am not aware of this. As we speak right now, I cannot confirm anything. Perhaps when I get to the office on Monday,” he told The Standard.
However, in October, the director of migration and diaspora affairs at the foreign affairs ministry, Musa Camara, confirmed the November 11 deportations to The Standard, arguing that it is the prerogative of every country to extradite a particular set of migrants.