Why are Gambian Youth Leaving Home for Europe?
When president Yahya Jammeh took over the ruling of Gambia the youth started to leave. The youth believe that they will have a better life in Europe rather than staying in Gambia. Gambia’s economy is deteriorating at a rapid rate because most of the businesses are owned by Jammeh. The country has no rules due to the fact that it’s now a dictatorship run by Jammeh and he does what he wants.
In 2014 there was a failed coup to take over Jammeh where a father of a 14-year-old boy was taken into custody and no one knows where he is at this time. Since then Jammeh has tightened his grip on the country because some people believe that he is very nervous that they might try again. Human rights have deteriorated ever since the coup and some of the Gambians have either gone to prison or disappeared.
Amnesty International has reported that since August 2014 the president has imposed a new crime “aggravated homosexuality.” A lot of LGBT have been tortured or arrested and are trying to flee the country. Jammeh has said that he can cure HIV, but only on Thursday. He has also said that he will personally slit the throats of any gays.
In the beginning it was mostly men that were leaving but now they have noticed that some of the fleeing are young girls. Some of those people have died trying to get to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
Jammeh doesn’t oppose the people leaving because he says that it’s better to have them leave than have them protesting outside his presidential palace. After these people leave the country they will not be allowed to return because Jammeh has not signed a repatriation agreement. If they do try to return they will not be allowed to disembark from airplanes. To get more people to leave he held a wrestling match where the prize was 2000 Euros, enough money to get passage to Europe.
A former civil society activist and former foreign minister have said that we need to help the people of Gambia but know that the funds will not reach the people if given to the government. Instead we need to impose travel bans, freeze assets of high-ranking officials and support opposition parties.