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City of Banjul
Friday, September 18, 2020

The plight of Gambian migrants: The need to create a sound environment

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With Essa Njie

It is an undeniable fact that migration is as old as human history. Be it ‘illegal’ or ‘legal’ one cannot separate migration from human survival. When labour was needed on the plantations in the West Indies, they turned to Africa for the human force-typical of migration (the era of slavery). When Europeans wanted to feed their industries during the era of industrial development, they turned to Africa for the raw materials need for those industries. When Europeans were busy competing for might across the globe, Africa became the hunting ground for control, thus they sat down in Berlin in a round table to distribute the continent like a cake as if they were in a birthday celebration. Colonialism certainly witness migration by Europeans to get what they needed most from Africa. It is therefore significant that we recognise this history to be able to understand the plight of our young people who are on a mission of probably regaining what was taken from the continent.

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It has recently been on the media that the government under your leadership has signed a ‘deportation agreement’ with the government of the Federal republic of Germany. This has been denied by the Gambia government through the foreign affairs ministry, claiming such information is false and unfounded. It may not be true, but may be the case that yourself and the German president have discussed something different in forging bilateral ties between the two countries. But one thing I also know of governments is that they can be very secretive. Denying such a claim is not a guarantee that it is not true. Whether true or not, the government under your leadership has the duty to create the sound environment for our young people not to look beyond our land. This is the collective responsibility of all the governments on the continent.

When the new government came to power, the country received millions of dollars from EU and other donor agencies, one specifically on youth employment. It should be borne in mind that you do not empower people but you create the environment for them to actualise what is call ‘self-empowerment’. Is it bad if our young people are back in the country to contribute in building a truly ‘new Gambia’? Certainly it is not bad if some of those who left the shores of our land are back to positively contribute to the development of our nation. But we must bear in mind that the condition must be ripe for such. It is time for our countries on the continent to provide the pull factors for migration so that many of those young people will not be bordered by any push factor to move out of their country of origin. It is unspeakable for people to embark on such a perilous journey with no guarantee of a better life in their places of destination as well-not different from the condition left behind.

In creating a sound environment, the government must embark on utilising our sovereign national wealth and minimise the begging. We must prudently spend and avoid waste of resources especially on issues that are of less significance. Allocating a huge amount on national celebrations should be a thing of the past. We must create the avenue to ensure the dignity of our people.

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