Gambian Migrant Rights Activist Lambasts Gambia Gov’nt over Migration Agreements with EU Partners
Yahya Sonko: Gambian Migrant Rights Activist Lambasts Gambia Government over Migration Agreements with EU Partners
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Gambia Refugee Association (GRA) in Baden-Wurttemberg Germany Yahya Sonko has lambasted the Gambia government of what he described as its ‘irresponsibility’ over the migration agreements it reached with European authorities especially on the recent Gambia-Switzerland migration deal that seeks to identify people he labeled as ‘uncooperative and undocumented’ Gambian migrants in Switzerland which could empower authorities in Bern to forcefully identify Gambians who potentially face deportations.
Mr. Sonko recently made these comments during an exclusive interview via WhatsApp noting that, the current situation of majority of Gambians in Europe especially in Germany is very bad as most of them are playing the ‘hide and seek’ tactic with German authorities trying to avoid deportations, adding that over ninety percent of Gambian migrants used to file for asylum using the previous repressive regime of Yahya Jammeh as excuse to stay in Europe but since 2017 European authorities no longer accept such narratives for Gambians seeking asylum in Europe.
He revealed that, the concept of the German government and so many other Europeans is that the Gambia has now achieved democracy and the rule of law and that Gambians have no reasons to stay in Germany if their asylum seeking is purely based on the previous dictatorship and repressive government at home.
According to him, the German authorities attempted several times to develop a framework document in negotiations with the Gambia government but to no avail, noting he had numerous conversations with German authorities in Germany and they always tell him that your government isn’t ready for negations over this migration issue for the past four years of the Barrow administration.
“Gambian authorities would always tell German counterparts that the technocrats in Banjul are working on a framework document but they never fulfill those promises to the German authorities in Berlin.” he added.
Mr. Sonko who is a member of many migration organizations in Europe and Germany in particular continued that, German authorities have visited the Gambia time and again with a view to frankly discuss the plights of Gambian migrants in Germany but the Gambian government tosses them all the time and that has angered Berlin of late. “All the difficulties Gambian migrants are going through is due to the lack of responsibility in Banjul, the coalition government of president Adama Barrow has failed Gambians in the diaspora.” he stated.
Statistically, he revealed that; over thirty (30) thousand Gambians are in Germany, Italy (50) thousand, Spain harbors about thirty (30) thousand more Gambian migrants while in his own German region of Baden-Wurttemberg over fifteen (15) thousand Gambians live in that area of Germany alone. “I am telling you facts and not fictions.” Sonko pointed out.
Mr Sonko accused the Gambia government of always being on the defensive whenever information is leaked but they never clearly inform citizens of their dealings on this migration issues with other countries. He added that, he knew the Switzerland-Gambia migration deal six months before Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Momodou Tangara went to Bern to sign the infamous opaque migration deal, noting their European counterparts would always make researches and consultations with some of the migrant rights advocates in Europe before they even approach the Gambia government.
The GRA PRO in Germany explained that, the Switzerland-Gambia migration deal is purely targeting undocumented and uncooperative Gambian migrants in Switzerland saying the Bern authorities cannot deport undocumented Gambian migrants without authentic documents satisfying their Gambian nationality and this deal that the government in Banjul has signed would help Bern authorities to forcefully identify Gambian migrants in Switzerland.
He noted that, with this deal in place Swiss authorities could force Gambians to identify themselves or they could equally use Gambian authorities to identify their brothers and sisters in Switzerland as they are currently doing in Germany where he alleged that Banjul has sent some immigration officials to Germany to help German authorities identify Gambian migrants. Mr Yahya Sonko who is a qualified teacher left the Gambia for Europe through the back-way due to lack of opportunities in the Gambia, a journey he used to reach the shores of Italy in December 2015. After eight months in Milan, Italy he started his migration activism and now lives in Baden-Wurttemberg Germany.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the government of the Gambia through its Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a press release confirming the signing of a migration Cooperation Agreement with the Swiss government in Bern on January 12, 2021. According to the release, the Cooperation Agreement is meant to curb irregular migration and ensure effective protection of the rights of Gambian citizens living in Switzerland as well as other migration packages.