Deportation of Gambians from Europe is not EU arrangement

Friday, August 18, 2017

The issue of whether to deport Gambians or any other migrants from Europe is not decided by the European Union, the EU Ambassador clarified.

Speaking at a press meeting on Wednesday, Ambassador Attila Lajos said deportation from Europe is decided by individual European countries and the country of origin of the migrant.  It is an issue of bilateral arrangement that the countries decide at their levels and the EU does not intervene or interfere with that arrangement.

Although the EU has continued to pump billions of dalasi to The Gambia under the new leadership, the ambassador said there is no condition, clause or article that obliges the Banjul government to repatriate its citizen from Europe.

“Migrants that exhaust their legal remedies, including the right of appeal, and could not still be granted legal documents to stay in Europe should be deported, by law,” Ambassador Lajos said.  “But the deportation of such migrants is now left out to the bilateral agreement between the host country [the European country] and the country of origin of the migrant.” 

Even though he is an EU ambassador, he did not know entirely the number of people deported from the individual European countries.

“However, I can tell you the number of migrants sent back from Europe is very small compared to the number of migrants that exhaust their legal remedies and are still living in Europe,” he said.

However, in May this year – barely four months after EU pledged €75 million euros immediate support and €150 million euros longer term help to Barrow’s government – six Gambians were returned from Europe through a flight financed by the EU border agency, FrontEx.

Three of the six are from Germany, and the other three from Sweden and they were escorted by EU federal police officers. 

Also, in April, two Gambians were returned from Germany, and in June, one Gambian was deported from the UK.

Saikou Ceesay, communications officer of the Ministry of Affairs and Gambians Abroad, said The Gambia government would comply with due processes that led to the deportation or return of Gambians.

“But the government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would not also hesitate to challenge any undue process that must have led to the deportation of any Gambian from anywhere in the world,” he said. 

“The Gambia government is not a signatory to any policy document that would warrant the deportation of its citizens from anywhere in the world.”

Mr Ceesay refuted the information that the government had signed deportation agreement with the EU as part of the EU aid support package to the government.

Meanwhile, through an EU-funded project to strengthen the management and governance of migration and the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants in The Gambia, at least 300 Gambian migrants are to be deported from Europe.

According to the project documents, a total of 1,200 Gambian migrants should return from across Africa while 300 Gambians among them should return from Europe but would benefit from reintegration assistance. 

Author: Lamin Jahateh
Source: Picture: EU Ambassador to The Gambia Attila Lajos