Community Mapping and Socio-Economic Profiling of Communities of Return in West Africa - The Gambia Report --- by Samuel Hall

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In recent years, Gambians have emigrated at a higher rate per capita than every other nation in Africa. In 2016, a total of 11,929 Gambians arrived in Italy by boat, a 41% increase from 2015. Of particular concern, 24% of these were unaccompanied minors. These figures do not account for the thousands more migrants whose journeys were halted at the North African border.

The context of migration and reintegration in The Gambia is underscored by two issues that have a particularly profound impact on the country and set it apart from most other West African countries. First, the new democratic government led by Barrow aims to stem irregular outward migration of low-skilled Gambians and to reintegrate returnees. The government is trusted yet still economically fragile. Secondly, Gambians constitute a disproportionately high percentage of arrivals in Europe. The strong culture of mobility northward is attributed to the influence of a deeply embedded European tourism sector.

In 2017, IOM Gambia received 3,900,000 EUR from the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), a relatively small sum of money at face value compared to the 11,800,000 EUR for Mali and 5,400,000 EUR for Guinea Conakry, although it does have a comparatively small population. The funding intends to provide assistance to 1,500 returnees in The Gambia. This document seeks to contribute to understanding Gambia’s complex dynamics to help IOM adapt its reintegration strategy and activities in areas of actual or potential return. To do so, this synthesis report identifies a number of challenges in the context of sustainable reintegration, and proposes levers of action, particularly at the local level. The objective is to support the operationalisation of the Joint Initiative for Migration Protection and Reintegration in Africa and to better understand the communities in which returning migrants return or arrive - to make recommendations at the EU and national level.

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