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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Gov’t denies deportation deal with EU

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By Talibeh Hydara The Gambia government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Corporations and Gambians Abroad has yesterday rubbished claims that it has signed an agreement to repatriate Gambians from Europe. There have been rumours doing the rounds on social media that the government entered an agreement with European countries to return Gambian migrants. However, according to Saikou Ceesay, the press officer at the foreign ministry, no such deal took place anywhere. “The government of The Gambia through information or foreign ministries did not sign any policy to repatriate Gambians in Europe. We have no interest in repatriating Gambians who are trying to make a better life abroad. “A Valletta Conference was held in Malta sometime ago where the government of the Gambia was present but did not make any commitment or sign any agreement with any European country for repatriation of Gambians,” Mr Ceesay said. Recent statistics has shown that the Gambia is among the top five countries whose citizens migrate and horrific stories have emerged about the condition of migrants in their host countries. According to Mr Ceesay, the government will not return these migrants who have risked everything including their lives to reach Europe. “The government has no intention of repatriating Gambians from Europe after braving deserts and seas to get there. All we are interested in is to safeguard their wellbeing and the foreign ministry shall continue doing that through its embassies, consular or representatives around the globe. “If any Gambia is repatriated from Europe, it has to do with the violation of the laws of that particular country in which we cannot interfere. We will only interfere if we detect impartiality in the judicial process of that country regarding repatriation. The ministry will continue to advocate the rights of Gambians and will protect them everywhere in the world,” he said. Two batches of Gambian migrants from Libya have already returned with the help of the International Organisation for Migration but even that has met with huge criticism from Gambians across the world. Speaking on that, Ceesay said those Gambians who have returned from Libya requested to come and more are set to return next month. He said: “Even those in Libya we are not forcing them to come. They are the ones volunteering to come and make a dignified living in the country after seeing a beacon of hope with the advent of the Barrow government. We are expecting 170 Gambian migrants from Libya on 4th of April and more will come on the next day. These people in Libya have been living in horrendous situations; they are treated like slaves and war criminals when they didn’t commit any crime in that North African country. Their only crime is to use Libya to get to Europe. While in Libya, criminals will kidnap them and forcefully extort money from their families in the Gambia. During that process, some die in detention and others suffer bizarre experience. “It is the obligation of the government to collaborate with its partners in a bid to facilitate the return of these migrants from Libya. The government will ensure that the returned migrants are able to enjoy a dignified life in their homes.”]]>

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