The politics of migration governance in the Gambia

On the 15th September, a group of around 20 Gambian diaspora, activists, journalists, scholars and practitioners met at the Arnold Bergstrasser Institute in Freiburg to discuss the politics of migration governance in the Gambia.

The programme included presentations from Paolo Gaibazzi, author of “Bush Bound”, one of the seminal works on Gambian migration, and Susanne Schultz, a PhD student at the University of Bielefeld, presenting her work on deportees in Mali and European border externalisation policies.

The workshop also included two panel discussions- one with Gambian diaspora members, the other with practitioners. The diaspora panel consisted of Kawsu Drammeh, Nyima Jadama, Bubacarr Komma and Biran Ngum. They expressed their perspectives on the new government in Gambia against the backdrop of their respective life stories and residency statuses. This included the perspective of those still awaiting asylum decisions, and others long established in Germany or having already returned to the Gambia.

The practitioner’s panel included a representative of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Bettina Fellmer, currently leading a project on skills-training for refugees, and a representative of the Baden Württemberg Refugee Council, Julian Staiger. They discussed their work and the challenges they face.

In addition, Judith Altrogge and Franzisca Zanker launched their report “The Politics of Migration Governance” at the event.

Many issues were discussed during the day, including the role for the diaspora, the position of many Gambians in Germany, prospects for legal ways of migration and the nexus between development and migration. Main conclusions for the workshop were the importance of conducting skills-training programmes in the host country prior to return, the symbolic societal value of deportation and return as well as the importance of political representation for migrants, both abroad and back at home. In terms of development, participants highlighted the need to work with non-governmental organisations, the necessity of applying the ‘do no harm principles’ to development projects, and decoupling conditionalities of development cooperation from common migration policies. The workshop was considered as a first step for future collaboration.


More about the project can be found here.