Gambia moved toward becoming a symbol for equitable change earlier this year when previous tyrant Yahya Jammeh was calmly removed through the voting process. Nonetheless, over two many years of dictatorship have left their mark on this little nation in West Africa. The new government drove by Adama Barrow has its work slice out to revamp the nation.
Substantial quantities of young fellows returning without prospects of business could have security suggestions for the youthful democracy. Gambians were among the top nationalities leaving West Africa for Italy in 2016. In total 11,929 Gambians arrived a year ago. But since they have another equitably chosen government, European nations are currently looking to increase the profits of Gambian transients. A Working Party on Integration, Migration and Expulsion has just met at the European Council to talk about a draft concurrence on returns between the EU and the Gambia.
A key element of return to the Gambia is the role that returnees can play once they are back and how well accepted they will be. Without a thriving labour market such reintegration will be challenging and at worst could lead to conflict among a group of frustrated young men.
The first challenge for returnees is that their chances of employment once they’re back in The Gambia remains slim. General unemploymentis at 29.8%, and for youth it is estimated to be 38.5%.
Efforts are being made to tackle the root causes of migration by creating jobs. For example, new development projects are being launched in the Gambia including a 13-million-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund project. This is a good start, but the project has just been launched and will take time to implement. It has also been criticised for a lack of ownership, with the implementing agent, the International Trade Centre, having only recently opened a project office in the Gambia.
This doesn’t help individual migrants who still need viable opportunities to reestablish themselves. Otherwise there is little reason not to emigrate again. At worst the frustration of returnees could lead to conflict.
Large numbers of young men returning without prospects of employment could have security implications for the young democracy. Though voluntary returns will be prioritised, a considerable number of cases are likely to be involuntary.
The potentially explosive levels of frustration already hold true for returnees from Libya. Since March 2017, the International Organisation for Migration has sought to voluntarily return Gambians home from Libya. In August, it identified 1,979 Gambians living in Libya.
By September 2017, 1,119 Gambians had been returned. When a focus group of 15 were questioned in a recent study, they said that they returned because of the gravity of their situation in detention centres in Libya, and to a degree, by the hope that things would be different in the new Gambia.
But the returnees were increasingly frustrated. Firstly, they were angry at returning home empty-handed. When they agreed to return they were under the impression that they would get reintegration funds from the International Organisation for Migration. But only the most vulnerable returnees received any.
And returnees felt abandoned by the new government. Again, they were under the impression that government representatives would welcome them home in person and give them a chance to voice their concerns.