Immigration: Some thoughts from a paper by Abdoulie Kurang; the use of The Gambia as a case study for Irregular Immigration

African Millennial Concepts
5 min readSep 12, 2020


A moving image from “Migration is helping Africa in many ways

Immigration has many layers that have complex factors that are difficult to explain. Breaking them down into one or the other, is hard, and intellectually a challenge for anyone. Not to mention, the relevance and importance of how one factor affects one group over another is a matter of relative opinion. Issues that surround why any person would move form one country to another has a range of reasons from negative necessities such as; war, famine and the violation of human rights to positive requirements like change of environment, urge to travel or the materialisation of an opportunity.

My point of view on the topic is indifference at the moment; for the topics tend to be too political for my personal palate. This opinion stems from my interaction with a range of community members around the topic and their personal experience.

I took the time to read a published essay by Abdoulie Kurang, “How does irregular migration to Europe affect poverty in “origin” communities? A case study of The Gambia” a publication available from “Poverty, Vulnerability & the Global Economy” from The University of the Gambia. This publication has some interesting inserts which I hope from a reader’s point of view, may provide the provision for a digestible discussion.

How does irregular migration to Europe affect poverty in “origin” communities? A case study of The Gambia

Since the 1994 international conference on Population and Development, the subject of international migration and its impact on development has gained significant ascendancy on the agenda of the international development community (UN, 2017). International migration has reached an estimated number of 272 million as of 2019, an increase of 51 million since 2010,
suggesting an upward trend in this occurrence (UN, 2019). Most notably, since the beginning of the 1970s, the world has witnessed an unprecedented number of “irregular migrants” from the Global South to the North (see e.g. Lohrmann, 1987). Irregular migration, also termed as clandestine, illegal, or undocumented migration (Bohning, 1983), has evoked powerful debates
among academics, policymakers and the public on the implications of migration on the development of “origin/sending” and “destination” countries. Specifically, The Gambia is one of those sub-Saharan African countries experiencing a significant number of its youthful population using irregular migratory routes (commonly dubbed as “backway” among Gambians) to Europe. This is what prompted this essay.

This introduction, highlights a scope of context of engagement on a world wide view. A measure of reference to an associated factor that impacts immigration: population. This is a known economic player for a lot of issues that arise in any countries politics and development. However, the scientist in me needs numbers to lead somewhere. Prompting my thoughts around resources; whether developed, accessible and made available to different groups in a population. How and why the number of people would prompt movement is another social question addressed in the cited paper. However, numbers and the details that they tend to highlight helps measure numerous factors around an issue and highlighting them for the Gambia’s case definitely makes the point known.

Stirring my thoughts around it, I began to contemplate the different issues that increase and decrease population density in an area. More or less, a lot can be said around the topic. Whether the understanding of all the factors is as vital a task as the drilling down to solutions for the cause and effect of immigration in the Gambia; is also quite complex. My personal take away is, having context provides a start point of discussion around solutions, information that is quantified or measured with intention for problem solving is vital. Understanding this from the resources cited in he’s paper is deliberate and helps all readers understand he’s digestion of the issue.

1. The concept and causes of The Gambia-Europe irregular migration

Nonetheless, The Gambia forms an interesting academic case study, considering the high number of young Gambians in this clandestine and perilous journey to Europe. Although irregular migratory routes from the sub-Saharan region are quite dynamic and complex, however, since the mid-2000s young Gambians mainly embark on routes from West Africa through the Sahara Desert to Libya, where they join overcrowded boats that will take them to Europe (Suso, 2019).

Moreover, amid the economic challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the World Bank has predicted that global remittances would decline by about 20 percent, which is largely due to the fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers (see World Bank, 2020).

The specific Provision of the link to Millennials; young people, and the routes they take to immigrate for irregular reasons scopes out a headspace of reference for us all. This issue affects young people from the Gambia who are starting up in the world and unsure of methods or means to seek out. It is a lot to take on, with the addition of a global pandemic, the future right now feels and looks bleak, not only for the Gambia, but young people in countries that face similar challenges.

On a global front, being able to identify these needs and assist where possible has quite frankly been a beautiful phenomenon to watch. From the public figures, organisations, individuals and sound bite media pieces similar to my own that have provided exposure to genuine care of other humans. Recovery is on the rise for all, and getting into the mind-frame where inspiration, innovation and empathy will need to be mixed for these challenges to be addressed is a difficult space for anyone with leadership qualities to undertake in these challenging times.


Broadly speaking, migration offers benefits to sending societies, which can be in the form of economic (and social) remittances. As expressed in this paper, it is pivotal to put into consideration the type of migration, and whether the benefits of such mobility actually compensate for its socio-economic cost.

Reading this, gave me a personal shift of weight; in the sense of responsibility, my persoanl views on immigration and the reasons for it are not a binary option for all. Understanding as to where and why immigration occurs specifically in the Gambia; provided that context and especially during a global pandemic it is hard to understand. As mentioned, socio-economic factors and their evaluation have complexities. The political flavour of it is not personal inclination. But my inclination does not dismiss the relevance of the issues in this publication and the evidence used to address it is profoundly insightful.

Whether looking for society’s benefit or need, immigration has so many layers that requires a broad understanding. The measure and metrics of relevance are hard and require a discussion and hope that more people are able to understand it is where I leave you, the reader.