#Article (Archive)

Support our Brothers and Sisters Abroad

Jul 25, 2008, 10:03 AM

These are trying times for Gambians and people of other nationalities who are living illegally in the UK.

They are currently trying to digest the new proposed rules and regulations by the British government regarding how to earn certain status in the country including becoming a British citizen.

In a situation such as this it can be very tough on the people involved who can feel both fearful and in a state of limbo. Many will fear deportation not only because they will lose the life they have built up there but because in many cases their families here in The Gambia will be depending on the money they send home. With the rising prices of basic commodities the money which comes from the UK and Europe is becoming increasingly important to many Gambian families.

With so many people potentially affected The Point's UK Correspondent contacted the Gambian High Commissioner in London as a matter of urgency to shed light on the plight of her country men who are desperate to hear from their own representative. Unfortunately Gambian High Commission is still reluctant or refused to comment on the matter. Both phone calls and emails to the High Commissioner received no response or even an acknowledgement. This is very disheartening. The High Commissioner should be acting as the face of The Gambia in the UK and doing all in his power to ensure that our brothers and sisters abroad are fully briefed, aware of their rights and protected in every way possible.
For this reason we call on the government of The Gambia to put pressure on their representative in London to make information and support available to Gambians in the UK. Our correspondent put some very pertinent questions to the High Commissioner which remain unanswered but must answered soon. We reprint them here for the record. 

1.         We want to confirm whether or not your office received any information relating to Gambian illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom threatened with deportation from the country following the new immigration rules that are expected to take effect soon? 

2.         If so what is your message to those Gambians affected?

3.         Also what sort of help can your office offer to help regularise the status of these illegal immigrants?  

This information must be released immediately so that Gambians in Britain can prepare for the tough time ahead.

A well-known Gambian solicitor who spoke to our correspondent challenged the Gambian High Commissioner to give some advice to Gambian nationals. The solicitor asserted that, "the High Commissioner could use her diplomatic protocols and credentials and liaise with the Home Office to see how best he could obtain clear information regarding the issue and advise his people on such matters rather than just keeping quiet." We agree fully with these words and join with our brothers and sisters in the UK in demanding answers and support from the organs of the Gambian state both at home and abroad. From the UK point of view they must remember that The Gambia and many other African nations are members of the Commonwealth and as such should enjoy certain privileges. As members of this august group our young men and women should be allowed free movement to study and further their education in the UK. We should also enjoy certain dispensations when it comes to the immigration process. Our citizens who have resided in the UK for many years and contributed to that nation's economy should be granted an amnesty so that they can regularize their status and stop living under the cloud of fear that they may be discovered and deported. There are many of our citizens in this dreadful situation so we would ask that the UK authorities consider an amnesty package like the one the United States introduced in the 1980's when they introduced the Morrison Visa which saw many thousands of illegal immigrants regularize their status. The UK must not forget the contribution of The Gambia to its great wealth today not to mention the enormous contribution made by our ancestors who fought with the British Army. It is time to give something back.