“The issue of migration of course it is a contentious issue in the region where we are but that notwithstanding, these are people that actually are Gambians. It is not the wish of any country to reject your own nationals anyway and that is not the position of The Gambia government,” Gambia’s Information Minister Ebrima Sillah remarked during an interview with the Freedom Newspaper. Sillah’s statement followed the European Union’s move to impose what it called temporary visa restrictions on The Gambia. The decision followed the Gambian government’s failure to accept the return of its nationals, who have been declared unwelcomed in European countries. Thousands of Gambian migrants have been lined up to be deported from Europe, especially Germany.

The EU says the optional visa fee waiver for holders of Gambian diplomatic and service passports have been suspended. Such passport holders would henceforth be required to pay visa fees.

The EU has also suspended the 15 days visa processing period, meaning that visa applicants would wait for a longtime before their applications would be decided.  Multiple entry visas have also been suspended; the EU says in a statement issued.

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“We have also received the press release issued by the European Union delegation to The Gambia on the issue of temporal visa measures for nationals of The Gambia under the EU visa code, as they called it.  As a government, we are properly digesting this report, hopefully, we will come to the understanding what it properly means and also some of the responses that could be generated from them,” Information Minister Sillah told me on the line to Banjul on Monday.

The European Union visa sanction followed The Gambian government’s alleged failure to receive its nationals, who have been lined up to be deported from different European countries. The Gambian migrants were supposed to be deported during dictator Jammeh’s rule, but Jammeh at the time wouldn’t accept to receive deportees from the EU and the United States.

According to the EU, under international law, all countries have the sovereign right to decide who can enter and stay on their territory, as well as the obligation  to readmit their nationals.

It further noted that individuals who have no right to stay in the Member States of the EU must return to their home country in a dignified way, in full respect of fundamental human rights.

The new visa restrictions would last for six months, upon which the EU says a review would follow.

“Well, you know, Gambia is also not responsible for how the other countries reacts when it comes to their foreign policy, however, it is the wish of The Gambia that we continue that very strong cordial relationship with all the countries including the EU,” Sillah noted.

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