The Gambia Refugee Association Europe Branch on Wednesday called on the Gambia government to intervene in the ongoing efforts by European countries to deport thousands of Gambians.

At least 15 undocumented Gambian migrants were on Tuesday deported from Germany, a move that has caused panic within the Gambian refugee community in Europe.

The Gambia Refugee Association Europe Branch in a statement signed by the chairman Buba Barrow said it is “soliciting efforts towards finding a peaceful and positive solution to our problems.”

The statement read: “We are very much concerned about the ongoing trend of deportation that Germany is taking currently against Gambian refugees and migrants. Last Month, the Interior minister for Baden-Württemberg Region Thomas Strobl was quoted as saying in the news media publication on 28 November 2018, that there are 2,500 Gambian refugees whose asylum cases have been rejected and are already identified to be deported.

“He said from last month onwards, 15 Gambians will be deported every month until the total number of 2, 500 identified refugees is completed. Again, he was quoted as saying, besides the said number, there are 5,400 remaining Gambian asylum seekers who are either waiting for an answer from their interviews or have not yet done any interview. There are 14,000 registered Gambia asylum seekers in Baden-Württemberg Region and the remaining are either waiting for an interview or have already got their documents.

“As we speak, many Gambians were deported in December 2018 and there are plans to deport many more Gambians at the end of this month too. This is indeed a great cause for concern for us. Initially, on 3rd January 2019, we took a first step by writing officially to our country’s leader HE President Adama Barrow; the Vice President HE Ousainou Darboe; Cabinet Ministers such as Interior minister Hon. Ebrima Mballow; Justice Minister Abubakarr Baa Tambedou; Youth and Sports Minister Hon. Hadrammeh Sidibeh; Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Momodou Tangara; the Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Mariam Jack-Denton; the Deputy Speaker Hon. Momodou LK Sanneh; the Majority Leader Hon. Kebba K. Barrow; the Minority Leader Hon. Samba Jallow and all the other National Assembly Members each (Total 58 NAMs); and each of the Political Party leaders (UDP, GDC, GMC, APRC, PDOIS, NRP, PPP and NCP), to inform them of our situation and the earlier mentioned information about the ongoing deportation trend. We have equally sought their quick intervention to resolve the matter but have not yet received any CONCRETE answer.

“However, we would also like to clearly state that we have received a notice via email from Hon. Sanna Jawara, UDP National Assembly Member for Upper Fulladu West; Lawyer Almamy Taal, Spokesperson of UDP, Hon. Halifa Sallah, National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Constituency, and Hon. Hadrammeh Sidibeh, Minister of Youth and Sports, acknowledging receipt of our letters addressed to them. Furthermore, Hon. Hadrammeh Sidibeh, the Youth minister has written a letter to us signed by his Permanent Secretary, stating his concern over the issue and has promised to forward the matter to the concerned authorities in the Gambia government for further action.

“Hon. Halifa Sallah, NAM for Serrekunda has also written to us, promising that the National Assembly Select Committee will discuss the matter in the third week of January and shall get back to us upon completion of their first step. Therefore, we are appealing to Civil Society Groups, Human Rights Organisations, Opinion leaders, Politicians, Activists, Mayors of Banjul and Kanifing, Local Government authorities such as the Governors, Area Council Chairpersons across the country, District Chiefs, Councillors, Alkalolu, Gambian women, the youths, parents and any other concerned individual(s) to kindly convince our Gambia Government (President Barrow and his Cabinet and the National Assembly) to engage the European Union and authorities especially Germany and Italy regarding our plight and welfare in an effort to minimize the deportation trend.

“Despite the international guidelines set aside on the issue of deportation, we thought it imperative for our government to engage the Europeans to re-prioritize deportation. As committed, hard working and dedicated Gambian youths, we want to be given the chance to work and get good integration in Europe and as well learn new skills for the next five years. This will enable us to work and contribute effectively towards the socio-economic development of the country we live in and of our very own nation, The Gambia whenever we return back home in some years to come. Many of us want to learn various skills and professions that will enable us explore our potentials in our motherland. We have a vision and our focus is on capacity building and how to effectively contribute towards our country’s development. However, we cannot take care of our families and cannot make any useful contribution in our homeland if we are deported without getting any proper integration or learning new skills that can benefit us in Gambia. Gambia government should also understand that the remittances from the Diaspora are estimated to represent about 20% of the Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we (refugees and migrants) form an integral part of this sector.

“Therefore, getting additional number of youths sent back without any skills or knowledge to help them contribute their quota to the country’s development could bring some complications for our government. We again reiterate our appeal to all concerned Gambians to convince our government to engage the EU on the deportation issue. We have seen success stories from countries like Ghana when their president Nana Akufo-Addo recently engaged Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini to stop the deportation of Ghanaians and Italy had no choice than to let their migrants stay until further notice. We hope that The Gambia will follow suit.”