By Tabora Bojang
A joint migration study conducted by Action Aid The Gambia and Action Aid Denmark, entitled “How The Gambia Better Address Migration And Its Development Challenges”, has revealed that about 8,681 Gambians were recorded as arriving in Europe by sea from January 2017 to March 2018.
They were the eighth largest constituents of the arrivals and comprising 4.7 of the total. In contrast about 12,792 Gambians reportedly to arrived in Italy and Spain by sea in 2016.
The migration report was launched yesterday by the Vice President Ousainu Darboe as part of the launch of a six-year country strategy paper dubbed “Building Resilience For Social Justice” by Action Aid and its partners.
The report focused on young people who have been leaving The Gambia in their thousands in recent years making the perilous sea journey in a desperate bid to enter Europe.
The report notes that until recently, Gambian migration was largely the result of repressive government policies and lack of political and civil rights.
Gambians comprise the fifth and third largest foreign nationals in Spain and Italy respectively. The UN High Commission for Refugees listed 26,570 Gambians as a ‘population of concern’ abroad by mid-2016, with 10,070 as refugees and 16,500 as asylum seekers with pending cases.
“The democratic transition of a new government which sweeps away dictatorship means prospects for Gambians are much brighter now. However, not all Gambian migration was the result of political repression and many young Gambians are still leaving the shores of the country. Throughout 2017, even after the fall of Jammeh’s repressive regime, Gambians have kept crossing the Mediterranean, although at a reduced rate.
7,669 Gambians arrived in Europe by sea from January to October 2017,” the study revealed.
It indicated that the central Mediterranean route, taken by the overwhelming majority of Gambians is the deadliest of the routes. “Over 5,000 have died crossing the sea to Europe in 2016 and nearly 3,000 have died in the first ten months of 2017.”
The report contained recommendations as to how best the country can address root cause of the illegal migration.
The study further argued that unless The Gambia improves its job prospects and agricultural livelihoods, the migration outflow of the country is likely to continue.
“The government needs to focus overwhelmingly on agriculture where some 70% Gambians earn their livelihoods while donors who have caused climate change should be doing much to address it”.
The report warned the government to be wary of economic policies being influenced by donors stating that the previous government failed to improve the livelihoods of the rural dwellers, and failed to create sufficient jobs leading to the mass exodus of Gambian youth.