EYEAFRICA: Geneva, SWITZERLAND:- The Gambia and Switzerland have signed cooperation agreement on migration, a move critics say could open door for the deportation of several undocumented Gambians living in Switzerland.
In a statement, Swiss officials said the agreement on migration signed on Tuesday will allow Switzerland and The Gambia to strengthen their respective efforts in fighting illegal migration.
The two countries also signed agreement on civil aviation.
The Gambia’s Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Mamadou Tangara signed the two agreements on behalf of the government of The Gambia, while Vice President of Swiss Federal Council, Ignazio Cassis and Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter signed for their country.
“Faced with migration challenges, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) intends to continue to support the Gambian authorities in handling migration, not least by helping to implement projects locally. So far, SEM has organised ad hoc training to enable The Gambia to increase its capacities and is supporting a project with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Swiss government said in a statement.
The Gambia in return will help Swiss authorities in the practical organisation of returnees, such as identification and the issuing of replacement documents.
Switzerland has so far concluded eight similar migration cooperation agreements with countries on the African continent, among them Angola, Cameroon, Benin and Tunisia. These are in addition to the 56 other agreements to return migrants from Switzerland.
On aviation, the two parties signed an aviation services agreement which will allow airlines to offer passengers and shipping companies competitive prices and services on open markets, while preserving strict safety standards.
According to figures from the UN, Gambian nationals account for a significant proportion of migrants crossing the Mediterranean each year to reach the Italian or Spanish coasts.