By Mustapha K Darboe
Hundreds of Gambian migrants in Germany are protesting over what they alleged to be Gambia’s acceptance to sign a repatriation order to return 1500 people from Germany.
Oley Touray, a Gambian migrant who is helping other migrants with assistance from Refugee Council of Baden-Wuerttemberg, said they are holding a procession on 23 December in Stuttgart, capital of southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg state against deportation. “We are demanding Gambia government to reveal the content of the alleged agreement it has signed with Germany whose president visited The Gambia last week,” Touray said.
The migrants have established a Facebook page and WhatsApp group to vent their anger against what they called a “reckless decision” by their government to return them home.
Isatou Manneh, another Gambian migrant in Germany, said with all the sacrifices they have made, any government that has signed a paper trying to repatriate them would make a great mistake.
The Gambia, one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world with a debt burden at 120% of its GDP, has youth unemployment at 38%.
Analysts said the country’s migrant challenges must be taken with caution by both government and its EU partners.
Sidi Sanneh, a Gambian blogger and analyst, said the EU should slow its migrant re-entry programme for countries such as Gambia given that the country is just emerging from dictatorship.
“The challenges facing government and returning migrants are huge. It therefore requires careful and a realistic implementation schedule. The European Union also must be prepared to make adjustments to the project designed to accommodate concerns expressed by local and international development practitioners,” Sanneh told The Standard.
However information Minister Demba Jawo has denied that The Gambia signed any agreement with German president to return Gambians.
“The Gambia has not signed anything with German president with regard to the deportation of Gambians,” Jawo told The Standard.
Meanwhile, the German Foreign Office and the President’s Office have also denied report they have had any agreement with Gambia government to return migrants.
Though the foreign affairs office of Germany admitted there were individual deportations to Gambia this year. Fifteen people were deported to Gambia from Baden-Württemberg in 2017, the ministry stated in an interview with Refugee Council (Flüchtlingsrat) of Baden-Württemberg.