‘Mass deportation of Gambians could set country on fire’

The Manding Network, a group formed to promote Mandinka culture and foster unity among Gambians, has called on the government to make all efforts to halt the growing mass deportation of Gambians from Europe, warning that the trend can cause social instability.

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In a statement signed by its secretary general, Siaka Jammeh and shared with The Standard, the Network warned the Barrow administration that the deportations could lead to serious security problems especially in a tense election year. “Returning too many too quickly will overburden the country’s struggling government, risking its political stability. Bringing everybody back could set the country on fire and create a conflict zone,” the Network said.

The group stressed that “most of the deportees often arrive penniless, having driven their families into debt and facing the challenge of rebuilding their lives in a country where jobs and government support are scarce”.

Several European nations have been toughening their asylum laws, with some embracing The Gambia’s newfound democracy as an opportunity to increase returns.

Deportations from Germany in particular gained momentum after the Gambia government reportedly agreed to greater cooperation with the EU on returns in a non-binding “good practice” accord reached in May 2018.

“It is disheartening for our president to accept the deportation of his own citizens who risked everything to get to Europe. Our Network denounce this form of humiliation and inhumane treatment and call for an immediate stop to it. We expect a better and more mature leadership from this government. They should be bold enough to tell the West the country is under very difficult circumstances both security and economic wise,” the group added.

The group said “inasmuch as the government wants to continue receiving donors from Europe, they should consider the security risks attached to the mass deportations”.

“President Barrow and his government should convince the West to give them time to complete their reforms. They should put the country on the right footing before they allow repatriation of our brothers and sisters and leave them roaming on the streets,” the group added.

The group also blasted the president for failing to address economic, health and security challenges of Gambians during his independence speech.

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