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Swiss delegation explains migration cooperation with Gambia

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By Omar Bah

The Director of International Affairs of the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, Ambassador Vincenzo Mascioli, was this week in The Gambia for an exchange visit on migration.

Speaking in a Standard exclusive on Monday, Director Mascioli, who led a delegation to Banjul on bilateral talks with senior government officials, said the bilateral cooperation focuses on voluntary return and that there are very few cases of returns from Switzerland to Gambia.

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“And we take strong action on reintegration when people return, and we also think of having prospective for people to reduce the causes of migration. We have a very strong conviction that migration is an international phenomenon with challenges but also opportunities, and to address the challenges of migration, there is only one answer: international cooperation. That is why Switzerland is here because we are convinced that we have to work together,” he said.

Mr Mascioli said Switzerland has a broad and holistic concept of migration.

“For us, migration also means developing opportunities, including training and skill development, for young Gambians here in The Gambia,” he stated.

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He said Switzerland has a principle to its approach to migration because, when dealing with issues of migration, “you should factor in economic opportunities and labour.”

“We also have a partnership approach, which means that as partners, we always need to learn from each other,” he stated.

Mr Mascioli said Switzerland doesn’t have the same approach to every country because their needs and situations are not the same.

“So, we develop our cooperation based on the dialogue we have with the Gambian authorities. It is our conviction that only this tailor-made cooperation focusing on a country-to-country approach is working, and our basic principle is that responsibility should be shared,” he said.

Switzerland, Ambassador Mascioli added, “is not a member of the European Union, but I think when we speak about migration between Africa and Europe, we need to tackle it together because no country can resolve the challenges of migration by itself.”.

He said, aside from migration, Switzerland is committed to supporting the Gambia to consolidate its democracy. Mr Mascioli, said a Swiss-funded project to support the security sector reform process in the Gambia, implemented by the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF), is one example of Switzerland’s efforts to support the West African country in its transition process.

“We contribute to institutional reforms in order to have stronger government institutions. Another example of our holistic approach is to engage the Gambian community in Switzerland, which also contributes to the economic development of the Gambia,” he said.

Mr Mascioli said Switzerland and The Gambia have long standing cooperation and they meet at a high-level on a regular basis.

“We meet with high-level representatives from several ministries in the Gambia,” he said.

After the meeting, Mascioli said that the exchange was accompanied by trust and mutual respect and that the outcome of the meeting was fruitful for both si

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