Senegal rules out mass deportations from France

26th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

DAKAR, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - Senegal ruled out on Monday mass deportations of its nationals currently living illegally in France following a pact signed between the two countries requiring clandestine immigrants to be repatriated.

DAKAR, Sept 25, 2006 (AFP) - Senegal ruled out on Monday mass deportations of its nationals currently living illegally in France following a pact signed between the two countries requiring clandestine immigrants to be repatriated.

"There will be no charter (flights) for clandestine migrants. The return of migrants to their countries of origin will be organised jointly by the two countries," Senegalese Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom told a news conference.

Ngom and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, signed the accord at the weekend making it easier for Senegalese students and entrepreneurs to enter France and for Paris to repatriate illegal immigrants.

Sarkozy described the accord as "historic and without precedent".

Ngom was reacting to newspaper reports here criticising the weekend deal as opening flood-gates of deportation charter flights from Paris to Dakar.

"Agreement on concerted migration management: here again the charters" said the daily Sud Quotidien.

"Sarkozy charters will soon get back to service," Le Quotidien said.

Ngom said he "was very astonished" by the criticism of the Senegalese press of the deal, suggesting the media probably did not understand well the terms of the agreement.

The West African country of 10 million inhabitants has long history of emigration, both legal and illegal, with its nationals figuring highly among the 25,000 illegal migrants arriving in Spanish islands of the Canaries this year.

The subject of immigration is a very sensitive one for both France and Senegal, bound by historical, political, economic and cultural ties.

In France Sarkozy — who has championed a tough line towards France's estimated 200,000 to 400,000 illegal immigrants — is the right-wing's likely frontrunner for the 2007 presidential election.

In Senegal, immigrant repatriation constitutes a risky operation just months ahead of general elections set for February 2007 and in which incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, 80, is seeking a fresh seven year mandate.

Departure for the West from impoverished Senegal - be it legal or illegal — is often considered an investment for families that help finance the trip hoping to receive afterwards regular cash transfers from the migrant.

A premature return of the migrant therefore is often perceived with shame and as a great financial loss for the family.

The French government has vowed to speed up deportations of clandestine immigrants and has scrapped the automatic right to residency papers for migrants who have been in the country for 10 years.

The rate of expulsions has been steadily rising, from 15,000 in 2004 to 20,000 last year. Sarkozy has set a national target of 25,000 for this year.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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