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City of Banjul
Tuesday, March 2, 2021

‘Draft constitution fails to address refugees’ plight’

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By Momodou Torp

Mustapha J Gomez, executive director of the Gambia Food and Nutrition Agency (GAFNA), has said that the nationality clause in the draft constitution will seriously affect refugees from Senegal and other African countries currently seeking integration in The Gambia.

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“In the 1997 constitution, there is a section regarding citizenship which does not allow foreigners to have dual citizenships and this has and continues to cause big problems for refugees especially those from Senegal and other countries who do not want to relinquish their citizenship of birth. “It is causing a big problem in the refugee reintegration processes we GAFNA are currently working on,” Mr Gomez told The Standard.

He added that though government has promised to consider their concerns over these issues, “nothing has been done yet.

“I would have thought that the new constitution would have captured these concerns and addressed them once and for all because The Gambia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention with an obligation to protect and integrate refugees,” he said.

Mr Gomez further observed that the issue of land ownership for refugees in The Gambia is another challenge.

“The refugees face huge challenges in accessing farm land to cultivate crops simply because they lack the opportunity to acquire lands due to land tenure system in the country,” he noted.

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