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MoFA denies knowledge of Swiss ‘deportations’

MoFA denies knowledge of Swiss 'deportations'

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By Omar Bah

The deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Musa Camara, has denied reports of planned deportation of Gambian migrants from Switzerland yesterday.

In January 2021, Swiss authorities issued a communiqué after Vice President Isatou Touray’s visit there, announcing they had signed a cooperation deal with The Gambia government to deport Gambians who failed in their asylum applications.

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“The operational cooperation with The Gambia over returning citizens generally works well. The agreement covers issues relating to the practical organisation of returnees, such as identifications and the issuing of replacement documents,” Switzerland authorities wrote on their website at the time.

However, Vice President Touray dispelled the report saying her visit to Switzerland had “nothing to do with deportation”.

Deportation plan

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But The Standard has obtained a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed to the Ministry of Defence requesting for flight and landing clearance for a repatriation flight scheduled to repatriate two Gambian nationals from Switzerland yesterday 24th February 2022. 

In another letter also obtained by The Standard, the Ministry of Defence, responded to Foreign Affairs’ request granting clearance for the flight to land at the Banjul international airport.

The Defence Ministry’s letter dated 23rd February 2020, signed by Dello Bah read: “In response to PR 9/20/01 (PMN) dated 9th February, 2021, I wish to inform you that approval has been granted for over flight and landing clearance to repatriate two Gambian nationals from Switzerland on the 24th February 2022. The flight No: QS 4314.”

The Boeing B737-800 flight will fly from Geneva to Banjul. According to our source, the Swiss authorities contacted Office of the President seeking clearance for the deportation of the two Gambians.

Reactions

When contacted for comments, the DPS and director of the diaspora and migration directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Musa Camara said: “My office is not aware of any planned deportation from Switzerland. We have different units at the ministry but mostly migration related issues are handled by the directorate.”

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