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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Activist warns deportation of Gambians to rise

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By Alagie Manneh

Prominent Germany-based migration activist, Yahya Sonko, has said the rate of deportation of Gambians from EU countries has risen significantly and is expected be even higher in the coming months.

Speaking to The Standard Monday, after an anti- deportation protest march in Germany Saturday, Sonko attributed the surge in deportations to sanctions threatened by the EU on The Gambia if it refuses to accept itscitizens.

“The EU is threatening financial sanctions and the Gambia government fears that could have far reaching implications and it is happy to accept deportees,” Sonko said.

He said the situation has never been this bad since President Barrow came to power in 2017.

“It has never been this worrying. Some Gambians here in Germany are running from their homes. It is traumatising. That’s why we demonstrated last Saturday in Stuttgart to call on EU and the Gambia government to halt the deportations. One of our demands is for The Gambia to review the so-called ‘Good Practice Agreement’ it signed with the EU because that agreement is not in the interest of The Gambia.

“We got official reports that this year alone the EU will be sending nine deportation flights, mostly from Germany, Italy, Sweden and others to Banjul,” Mr Sonko, who is a speaker at the Refugee Council of Baden-Württemberg for Gambia told said. 

He added: “All EU countries are arresting Gambians in masses that is why there is a deportation flight every month. Just few days ago, on 25 May, a chartered flight landed in The Gambia with 24 deportees and we can confirm that on 11 June there will be another flight, followed by another and another after that. Even The Gambia government confirmed that there will be deportation flights in May, June and July. We are expecting a huge number of deportees to arrive in The Gambia in the next few months. The 11 June flight is brining 34 Gambians.”

In the last few months alone, Mr Sonko added, about 122 Gambians were deported from Germany and a total of ten flights are being prepared by Germany to deport Gambian migrants.

Mr Sonko alleged that some migrants have been subjected to police brutality and called on the Gambia government to do more to protect its citizens from abuse. 

“When the German police go to the detention centres to get our boys, they would throw dogs at them to force them to come out and when they come out, they get chained like a bag of rice and thrown in the back of a truck. In the last deportation, 130 German officers escorted the boys to The Gambia. Imagine 130 police officers escorting just 35 migrants. It’s painful. They treat them like murderers. I’m calling on the National Human Rights Commission to investigate these incidents,” Sonko charged.

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