Gambia is torpedoing Germany’s repatriation efforts at various levels. On January 27, the authorities in Banjul thwarted a collective expulsion maneuver organized from the city of Frankfurt.
“On the day of the operation, 22 offenders detained pending deportation were taken to the airport. As Gambia did not give permission to land on its territory, the operation had to be cancelled a few hours before departure,” a spokesperson for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Interior told Die Welt – the majority of Gambians forced to leave the country live in Germany. We tried “to contact the Gambian authorities on several occasions to obtain permission to land, without success,” said an official.
Already in October 2020, a charter flight had to be cancelled, as Gambia issued no landing authorization on time, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Even individual repatriations, carried out on scheduled and therefore particularly expensive flights, are rarely successful. According to a confidential federal police list, 6 569 Gambians forced to leave the country were still living in Germany at the end of 2020. Some 42 were returned to their countries of origin during 2020, and 53 others were deported to countries from the EU where they had already applied for asylum.
Protests and waves of anger are expressed on the internet every time a plane full of returnees lands in the African country. Solidarity with the “backway boys”, as emigrants who pass through the “back door” of the European asylum system are called in Gambia, is strong. No African head of government wins voters by authorizing repatriation.
Gambia is particularly dependent on the money sent by emigrants as these transactions represent around 15 percent of annual economic output. For Gambia specialist Yorck Wurms, these payments are one of the main reasons the country is so reluctant to take back its nationals. “No state takes pleasure in reducing its main source of income,” explained Wurms.
According to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Interior, among immigrant asylum seekers, those coming from “Gambia are the first to break the narcotics law and engage in drug trafficking”.