At least 8,000 Gambian refugees still remain in neighboring Senegal refusing to return to the small nation in hopes to be resettled in Western nations.
The political turmoil that nearly had a violent ending in The Gambia prompted some 76,000 people to flee to Senegal. The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said many had returned home after the Gambia’s government dispatched buses to transport people to their homes.
Many Gambians nearly half the size of the population of the capital, Banjul had applied for asylum in Europe last year. At least 75% of Gambians in Europe are considered economic migrants and their asylum applications were rejected.
This will see a spike after the ouster of longtime repressive ruler President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh was defeated in the polls in December and his refusal to cede power sparked the political uncertainty that ignited the refugee crisis in Senegal.
Regional troops entered the country to flush him out and he fled to Equatorial Guinea, ending the turmoil.
Refugee resettlement can take up to 5 years and in very special circumstances, it may take 18 months, meaning refugees are arriving in countries like the U.S. at a very slow pace.
The U.S. is apparently the chosen destination of many Gambians, who are majority Muslim. Although they may not directly be affected by the Trump executive order, the crisis in The Gambia is not one that may qualify those refusing to return home a refugee status.
Gambians political future is still uncertain but many refugees that are resettled lived in camps for decades.
The resettlement agencies look at each particular case and make a determination about where the person or family should be sent based upon a number of factors.