Does the Gambian government have the power to stop mass deportation?

Nowadays the most important question we can ask is: does the Gambian government actually have the power to stop mass deportation of Gambians from the West? There are many different opinions, but this is my take.

According to international rules and norms, each sovereign state (including The Gambia) is at absolute liberty to distinguish genuine migrants from those thought to be illegal. Consequently, even the mighty USA holds NO power to stop a determined country (let’s say Germany, for example, this is not just about African countries) from deporting US citizens as long as the process is legal.

My fellow Gambians, the brutal fact is that the opportunities of a few decades ago, which attracted thousands of Africans to migrate elsewhere in the pursuit of a better life, particularly to greener pastures in Europe, are no longer available today. As result, the EU and the rest of the West are effectively closing their gates in order to curb mass immigration, regardless of the gender or race of the immigrants.

Anti-immigration sentiment triggered Brexit and decisively got Donald Trump elected President of the United States of America. Such a sentiment propels the agenda of the extreme right-wing popular conservatism movement across Europe. Taking all this in to account, in my opinion, mass deportation from the West is not only inevitable, but it would even be necessary, in order to prevent a resurgence of kind of the concentration camps we saw in World War 2.

Most people are of the view that the austerity measures which were put in place back in 2010 were absolutely not necessary. It was a political choice which was designed to discourage people from welfare dependency: they went ahead with it and it economically battered families and ruined the life of millions of lower income earners. Almost nine years later, people are still living with the consequences.

Mass deportation to Africa is similar to austerity in Europe

If there are politicians who can inflict such devastating pain on their own citizens just to prove a point, how on earth can we stop them sending immigrants to poverty and destitution?

Since independence, the culture of excessive dependency on the foreign aid (with many strings attached) has significantly reduced our ability to appropriately tackle a crisis of mass deportation. The only thing we seem to offer is daily prayers wishing good luck to migrants. We seriously lack the stomach to challenge our developing partners on issues of economic growth and human improvement, let alone migrant welfare (I know the room for diplomatic manoeuvres is often quite small because our limited resources mean we have no bargaining chips, but even so…)

African youths lack a genuine desire to pursue a prosperous future in the motherland, so they seek their fortune elsewhere. Blaming the government is not the answer. It’s time to start a constructive debate about mass immigration, to Europe, the rest of the West and in our own back yard. The biggest headache for the middle class in the Gambia right now is rural-urban migration, which is putting pressure on limited resources in public services such as hospitals and schools, and increasing the cost of living (let’s be honest, the majority of Europeans are suffering from similar challenges).

We ought to proudly open our arms and welcome our dear brothers and sisters who are being deported from the West, and share with them whatever we have, without prejudice against them or hindrance against Europeans. Arguments and public disorder are not beneficial, but unity in finding a peaceful solution and desire to nurture our social cohesion will make a huge difference. Though genuine news and fake news have equal status in their appearance on social media, spreading unfounded stories and inciting violence on Facebook and WhatsApp is not the act of a responsible citizen! People who ignite fireworks on social media cannot expect to boost their legal status in Europe or enhance their chances of claiming political asylum.

Africa is awakening and she is counting on all her children!

Yaya Sillah

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