By: Kebba AF Touray
Mr. Musa Camara, the Director of Diaspora at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, has said that over 40 thousand Gambians have arrived in Europe by irregular migration from 2014 to date.
Mr. Camara, who was speaking at the migration engagement with the stakeholders organized by youth advocators, also said that overseas remittances of an estimated 200,000 Gambians living abroad accounted for over 20 percent of the country’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP). He said migration has increasingly become a key priority for the government of the Gambia, with various diplomatic considerations.
“The Gambia approaches migration diplomatically using positive sum or non-zero-sum process to mutual cooperation with expected gains from both ends. The Gambia discourages zero sum perspectives, where only one side is expected to benefit.
“The Zero-Sum rationale refers to the perception where one party measures or achieves success in relation to the (weakened) position of the other party. Within the migration diplomacy framework, such thinking underlies within the western driver, that aims to prevent further immigration from the Gambia,” he said.
He said the Gambia government consistently maintains the principle of no zero-sum gain and that the aggressive removal of Gambians from western countries and the frequency and manner in which they are repatriated, has become a key point of diplomatic interaction between the Gambia and western countries.
Director Camara stressed that the effects of migration and its impact on Gambia’s diplomatic ties with western countries are multidimensional depending on the degree of cooperation which is sometimes driven by lack of mutual trust.
“Migration is an important and contested societal issue in the Gambia, reflected in our national politics. Firstly, irregular migration is highly politically volatile. Many Gambians have left the country in the last decade, mainly in search of greener pastures,” he said.
Camara said the primary way used by the stakeholders to tackle migration is by combating the root cause, saying the idea is to reduce migratory push factors such as poverty.
He cited that the positive consequences of irregular migration are increased developmental funding in terms of projects, mutual efforts to combat the dangerous risks associated with irregular migration, budget support and technical cooperation.
To Camara, the negative consequences are diplomatic isolation, sanctions, travel bans on government officials and visa restriction on Gambian citizens wanting to travel to the West and cutting of development cooperation.