EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: European Union governments are planning to stop issuing visas to political leaders and top business people in countries such as Gambia, Pakistan or Bangladesh to press them to take back their own citizens who have been deported from Europe.
EU figures has shown that Gambia is one of the leading migrant producing countries in Africa and about 6000 Gambians have unsuccessful asylum in Italy.
According to the data from the European Statistical Department, over 13 000 Gambians have applied for asylum in EU in 2016, 12,920 of which are first time applicants.
In August this year, the Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty has told journalists that government “will not” participate in any process that will lead to mass deportation of Gambian citizens from Europe.
And now the EU wants to limit visa allocations and aid to countries including the Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast and Senegal so that unless they accept their own people back they will find themselves barred from trips to the continent.
The EU is Gambia’s biggest donour partner and it has supported the country’s broken economy with €225 million since the fall of the autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh on December 1.
Official figures show that an illegal migrant from an African or Asian country arriving via a people-smuggling boat in the Mediterranean has a 73 per cent chance of remaining in the EU, even if they are served with a deportation order.
The mechanism to link migrant returns and EU visa policy “should be further used towards countries that do not co-operate in the area of return and readmission”, a leaked paper published by Statewatch, a rights watchdog, said.
The EU ministers were expected to discuss priority areas for action on counter terrorism in the coming months as well as the state of play and next steps regarding migration policy.
They are expected to cover several aspects including the response to the flows in the Central Mediterranean, the return of irregular migrants, among others.
EU interior ministers are concerned that the failure to deport migrants is encouraging people to make the dangerous journey to Europe.
The latest figures show that last year 983,860 people were found to be “illegally present in the EU”.
“The EU’s policy towards refugees and migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty is to create ‘reception’ or rather detention centres across Africa,” Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch, said.
“In Libya it is widely reported that these centres are quite appalling. It is a policy that lacks principles and humanity.”
By: Mustapha Darboe