There are over a thousand Gambians who have agreed to voluntarily return home from Europe, the foreign affairs minister, Ousainou Darboe, has informed lawmakers in Banjul.
Darboe did not, however, specify from which countries the potential returnees are going to be hauled from to their native country.
There are currently over 6,000 Gambians in Italy whose asylum applications were rejected since 2015 and awaiting removal from the European nation that happens to be the epicenter of Europe’s migration crisis.
“Not less than 1,000 Gambians have opted to come to The Gambia voluntarily and there have been no conditions attached to their repatriation… and we do not expect any conditions attached to their repatriation,” Darboe said.
A leaked agenda of the European interior ministers meeting in Brussels last month and published by State Watch has indicated that the EU is contemplating imposing travel bans on senior officials of countries that are refusing to take their migrants, including The Gambia.
Darboe said the Gambians have not attached any conditions to their return when quizzed by legislators. He also told lawmakers that his ministry has not also imposed conditions on other governments for the voluntary repatriation of Gambians.
According to the Gambian Association in Libya, there are close to five Gambian in various jails across the North African country.
Though Gambia does not currently have a foreign mission in Libya, because of the political crisis that gripped the country, about 600 have been repatriated by the International Organisation for Migration since January.
The security crisis and the absence of the foreign mission in the North African country have caused concern among lawmakers, prompting inquiries as to whether the country has a holding facility in Libya that can serve as a temporary shelter for Gambians.
Gambian authorities say they could not have a holding facility for Gambians in Libya to shelter migrants, because of the political conflict in the North African country.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Editing by Sam Phatey)