By: Ndey Sowe
The Chief of Mission for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in The Gambia, Fumiko Nagano, has called for a proper reflection on the backway phenomenon which has, through remittances, contributed about 20% of The Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The very fact that the so-far-unmanaged migration, singularly by the “Backway” phenomenon, has nonetheless accounted for close to 20 percent of the country’s GDP should give us pause to reflect on what can truly be achieve if we manage it properly”, she said recently at the launching ceremony of Gambia’s first ever job center.
She added that if we add the vulnerabilities associated with irregular migration, strategic and holistic management becomes not just a matter of choice, but of humanitarian and development necessity.
She remarked: “with the view of addressing these outstanding issues of immediate concern and guided by our belief that there are no short-term fixes for what is essentially a phenomenon that is as old as human history itself.”
She said IOM has since July 2017 supported the government in several areas such as supporting the voluntary returnees and reintegration of over 5,000 Gambian migrants from Libya and Niger over the past three years.
“It is estimated that close to ten percent of Gambian nationals reside abroad. This number of Gambian diasporans is responsible for making The Gambia one of the countries that receive some of the highest volumes of remittances relative to their Gross Domestic Product (GDPs), making The Gambia second only to Mauritius in Africa, for instance, this often cited example, however, needs to be taken in perspective”, she noted.
In highlighting her organization’s support to Gambia government, Nagano said they have supported government in modernizing its border management systems as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by enhancing its capacity to engage with The Gambia Diaspora and harness the immense development potential of the diaspora clearly possesses.
According to IOM, with a population of 2 million, The Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest countries. Despite its size, migration plays a significant role in Gambian society.
IOM added that, in recent years, the pursuit for socioeconomic advancement especially among the youth has driven many to undertake irregular migration with the aim of reaching Europe.
“Over 35,000 Gambians arrived in Europe by irregular means between 2014 and 2018, with many others in Africa along the Central Mediterranean Route opting for voluntary return,” IOM reveals.