By: Dawda Baldeh
Dr. Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, has said the Gambian Government is still concerned about a missing boat carrying two hundred migrants, including thirty-nine Gambians, that left the shores of Gunjur on 8th November 2021.
Minister Tangara made these remarks on Monday 24th July 2023 at the Ministry’s press briefing regarding deportation of Gambians into the country.
“An unfortunate situation that is still a worry to this Ministry and government is the missing boat that left the shores of Gunjur on 8th November 2021.
The boat carrying two hundred migrants, including thirty-nine from Gunjur, left the shores of Gunjur into the Mediterranean Sea for Europe,” he explained.
He told journalists that the whereabouts of those migrants cannot be established still.
“When the information came to the attention of the Foreign Ministry, we engaged our Missions in Mauritania, Morrocco, Spain, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Spanish Border Guards on a search mission. But, until today, their trace could not be found,” Dr. Tangara said.
The Foreign Minister revealed that his ministry has been engaging with the community of Gunjur which claims the migrants were intercepted in Mauritania.
“In December 2022, The Ministry facilitated and escorted three youths from Gunjur to Mauritania on a fact-finding mission where all the prisons and immigration detention centers were visited but none of the missing migrants could be found,” he told journalists.
The Gambian diplomat reiterated that they have developed a coherent policy for managing irregular migration as enshrined in the National Migration Policy (2020-2030).
“It is the government’s responsibility to discourage the youths from embarking on irregular journeys to Europe,” he stated.
On the deportations that have raised eyebrows of many Gambians, Tangara reiterated that the government has not and will not arrange or facilitate the return of anyone without due process.
“We have no interest in facilitating the return of our nationals from Europe considering the support given to their families through remittance,” he claimed.
He further claimed that comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnerships on migration with the European Union and member states are underway.
The Foreign Affairs head added that they have been engaging the European Union to consider the plight of Gambians that are currently within the EU Jurisdiction and have been law-abiding to be considered for integration.
He said the cabinet has met over the matter and the government will soon negotiate with the Federal Republic of Germany bilaterally to explore the new law on residence permits that came into effect on 1st January 2023.
This law is expected to allow migrants who have already lived in Germany for at least five years by 31st October 2022, to apply for a temporary German residence permit, according to Tangara.
“This temporary permit will allow holders time (18 months) to further regularize their statuses whilst in Germany, to become holders of the “regular” German residence permit,” he explained.
Additionally, he said Gambian migrants in Germany are qualified for a residence permit under these new arrangements.
“Some have already been successful in obtaining permits after applying under the new system. The requirements include having committed no crime and acquiring proficiency in the German Language,” he concluded.