The Gambia is located in West Africa and the smallest country on the African continent with a population of 2 million people. Although migration plays a significant role in Gambian society.
Facts reveal that 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.
Why the Backway?
A survey conducted in 2018 by the Gambia Labor Force shows that 95 per cent of Gambian irregular migrants, reasons for such journey are basically “lack of work”.
- Inadequate access to employment opportunities among Gambian youth is the major contributing factor to irregular migration.
- The pursuit for socio-economic advancement among the youth has driven many to undertake irregular migration with the aim of reaching Europe.
- Gambia economic downturn has been a primary driver of emigration from the country.
In reality, most Gambians who choose the backway face enormous risks. Many get robbed or smugglers lie about the costs. Officials often demand bribes along the way. Most irregular migrants from Gambian get stuck in Agadez, the last stop for West Africans before the dangerous Sahara crossing.
The journey continues across the Sahara, where migrants may be attacked or kidnapped. Cars break down or get lost, and people die of starvation or from falling off overcrowded trucks.
Libya, migrants are regularly arrested and taken to detention centers, where they may be starved and deprived of water, tortured, raped and murdered.
Those who manage to get on a boat out of Libya are in danger of drowning. Others are caught and taken back to Libya, or deported back to Gambia.
The life-and-death risks taken by many young Gambians who attempt the journey to Europe could hardly be more serious.