Excerpt from the OP-ed
Roughly 38,500 Gambians left the country through ‘irregular’ means between 2013 and 2017. Today, almost every family has ties abroad. The influx of immigrants to Europe and elsewhere was caused by political oppression under the long-serving former president Yahya Jammeh. His oppressive politics also severely affected the economic prospects of The Gambia’s young population.
As a result, a large number of citizens, mostly young men, sought asylum in Europe. But very few have been allowed to stay. Even more were turned away when Jammeh was toppled after elections in 2017 and the country returned to democracy. More recently, there has been a big push from European Union (EU) member states to return failed asylum seekers back home to The Gambia.
The question of returns is particularly volatile in the west African nation of 2 million people, reflected in the country’s and European press.