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GERMANY: REFUGEE COUNCIL OF BADEN-WURTTMBERG WARNED GAMBIA GOVERNMENT NOT TO ACCEPT MASS DEPORTATIONS OF GAMBIANS FOR EU AID

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We would like to ask you once again, with all due respect, to take note of our point of view. We are well aware that the Republic of The Gambia must make concessions to the European Union and to Germany in order to receive aid from the EU. But just as our politicians have room for maneuver, perhaps the Gambian representatives, politicians and authorities also have the opportunity to influence certain procedures – Says Chairwoman of the Refugee Council of Baden-Württemberg

Yo

Photo: Police Support Team from Germany made a courtesy call to President Barrow on Tuesday

Your Excellency,

Statement of German supporters
of Gambian refugees in Germany

lt’s with great respect that we, the undersigned, address this statement of
concern to you in your capacity as the President of the Republic of The
Gambia. We’ve decided to turn to you on the issue of Gambian migrants
/ refugees in Germany and we would be very grateful if you could grant
this statement a worthy attention.

We thought it imperative to draft this statement of concern because of a
problem that affects both the Republic of The Gambia and Germany,
specifically the deportation of Gambian nationals from Germany. We
would like to bring to your attention the views of those in Germany who
work with, support and employ Gambians in Germany.

We comprise the Refugee Council Baden-Württemberg, a non-profit
organization that advises refugees and advocates for their rights; the
‘Gambia Helfernetz’ (Gambia Helpers Network), an information
platform for full-time and honorary supporters of Gambian refugees
with over 500 participants; employers and other private individuals who
are concerned about refugee issues.

We observe with great concern that the German authorities have
deported more than 100 Gambian refugees to The Gambia between
November 2018 and March 2019. We are worried that German politicians
are determine to send back at least another 2400 Gambians. This does not
mean that only criminals will be deported to The Gambia, as it is
wrongly assumed and claimed. People are also deported who have been
living in Germany for several years, they have a steady job, earn their
own living and pay taxes to the German State. They learned the difficult
German language and went to schools. They do good work in German
companies, they successfully play in German football clubs, get involved
in sports and cultural clubs and have German friends. Most of them did
not get into conflict with the law and were not to be blamed for anything.
Even after the Gambian government placed moratorium on deportation
of Gambian migrants following the last mass deportation of Gambian
refugees from Germany through chartered flights, at least 12 people
were reported deported to The Gambia through other means.

You will find a list of examples in the appendix to this statement. These
people are personaily acquainted with members and participants of our
organizations. Many of these Gambians were picked up by the police
from the factories where they worked and schools, put on a plane and
deported to The Gambia. Some of these people had to leave their
children behind in Germany, some were about to get married. And also
good relations and friendship between Gambians and Germans have
been destroyed as a result of these unexpected mass deportations.

Despite The Gambia being a tiny West African, its name became more
popular here in Europe especially Germany due to the high presence of
its citizens who sought refuge here from 2015 onwards. Through the
Gambian refugees we learned about the reign of terror of former
president Yahya Jammeh; about poverty; and the difficult living
conditions in your country. We have met people who have courageously
left their country to heip their country and their families, and who tell
with pride and love about their people and their homeland. Every
Gambian is a representative of his/her country. Some have not taken this
role seriously. But many have won the hearts of Germans because we

have met friendly, hard-working and highly motivated people. They
built bridges through which we got to know and understand Africa’s
problems better.

lt is worth mentioning that several of the members and participants of
our organizations have visited your country in the meantime. We
especially appreciate the peaceful co-existence and the friendliness that
characterize The Gambia. We see the enormous challenges of training all
your youthful population and offering them employment and a good
future in The Gambia. Some of us still have contacts with some deportees
and we further realized that people who were having a good livelihood
in Germany are now faced with nothing in Gambia and join the large
number of unemployed young people without very good future
prospects.

The acceleration of deportations in recent months has led many
Gambians in Germany to live in fear. This is because, it can affect
anyone, and no one knows who is next. Some go into hiding in order not
to be deported, and sometimes we don’t know whether they are well.
Even the companies that employ Gambians live with the fear that a
Gambian employee may not come to work overnight or can even be
arrested in the company like a criminal to be deported back to the
Gambia. Despite the fact that these Gambian employees are often highly
motivated and work to the satisfaction of their bosses and colleagues and
the companies urgently need these employees. The German economy is
currently very strong and cannot find enough employees in some
industries because there are far fewer young people and young
professionals in Germany than in other countries, and German
companies will continue to depend on recruiting employees from non EU
countries.

The German politicians who are now pushing for deportations pretend
to have no other choice. However, we know that it would be possible, in
accordance with our laws, to allow hard-working and motivated
employees in the companies and well-integrated refugees to stay in our
country, even if their application for asylum was rejected. This is already

the case for refugees who are undergoing vocational training. They are
not deported.

We know that the strong supporters of deportations among German
politicians are particularly concerned about the interests of rich Germany
and Europe. The poorer countries of Africa do not have them in mind.
This is the only way to explain why in 2016, before Yahya Jammeh’s
election defeat, when nobody expected that the dictator would have to
vacate his place, the Minister of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg, Mr.
Thomas Strobl, suggested for Gambia to be declared a “safe country of
origin”. “Safe country of origin” means that in this country no
one is
persecuted by the state and the state protects them from all other
persecutions. The German state then assumes that the observance of
human rights is guaranteed and that applicants for asylum can be
deported without hesitation. This minister, who is still responsible today
for the deportation of Gambians, completely ignored the torture and the
trouble that many missing and persecuted persons in The Gambia
continue to face. We would like to emphasise that we want nothing more than for
the
Gambian youth to have a future in The Gambia. We are not happy to see

people who took the dangerous road (the backway) and could have died
in the desert, or were abused in Libyan prisons and camps, and risked
their lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

For this, however, the countries in Europe must assume a responsibility
towards the poorer countries in the world. With The Gambian situation,
we would be happy to see German taking responsibility in handling the
complicated deportation issue wisely to ensure that they don’t overload
Gambia with a lot of deportees that could later pose a threat to the
prevailing peace and stability in that country. They must ensure that
deportations do not lead to social conflicts and instability in countries
such as The Gambia with a young and unstable democracy. We know
that even the retumees from Libya pose enormous challenges to the IOM
which can hardly be overcome at the moment. In our view, the
deportations from Germany only aggravate the situation

We would like to ask you once again, with all due respect, to take note of
our point of view. We are well aware that the Republic of The Gambia
must make concessions to the European Union and to Germany in order
to receive aid from the EU. But just as our politicians have room for
maneuver, perhaps the Gambian representatives, politicians and
authorities also have the opportunity to influence certain procedures.

We assure you that we have the utmost respect for the Gambian
representatives and institutions and their decisions, and we would be
very pleased if our statement could meet your kind considerations. We
would also be pleased if you could find good ways to solve the problems
for The Gambia, the Gambian population, the Gambian refugees in
Germany, but also for us the full-time and honorary helpers and
supporters of Gambians and the German companies that employ
Gambian refugees.

Yours Faithfully,
Lucia Braß, ist Chairwoman of the Refugee Council of Baden-Württemberg

Birgit Hummier, Kay Bochmann-Riess, Cordinators of e Gambia helper network

CC:
HE The Vice President,
Office of the Vice President, Banjul, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Banjul, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Interior (MOl), Bertil Harding Highway, Kotu, Republic of The
Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS), Banjul, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure (MOICI), MDI Road,
GRTS Building, Kanifing, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Trade, Industries and Employment (MOTIE),
Banjul, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Justice and Attomey General Chambers (MOJ-i-AG), Marina Parade,
Banjul,
Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology (MOHERST),
Kotu, Republic of The Gambia
Hon. Minister,
Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE), Banjul, Republic of The
Gambia
Hon. Speaker,
National Assembly, Banjul, Republic of The Gambia

Forwarded by: Salieu Njie

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