European Union External Action

Ten flights from The Gambia bringing home some 2.056 Europeans, and counting!

22/04/2020 - 14:10
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The COVID-19 outbreak caused the Gambian authorities to close Gambian airspace, and this is when the EUD in Banjul started realising just how many stranded European citizens were in the country. Since, the EUD has been working all hours to help get as many as possible airlifted back to European destinations, and facilitate their onward travel to their homes anywhere in Europe.


Germany was the first country to spring into action. As a result of a concerted coordination between the EUD and the German Diplomatic Mission about 710 European citizens, including a total of 96 non-German passengers from 15 different European countries, were flown on three flights from Banjul to Frankfurt and Düsseldorf on 23 March. Another UCPM flight, organised by the Belgian government through its Embassy in Dakar and in close coordination with the EUD in Banjul, brought home 254 European citizens from as many as 16 European countries.

A fifth repatriation operation took place on 29 March at the initiative of The Netherlands, offering seats to 112 Dutch nationals and an additional 56 citizens from 12 other European countries. These 56 seats were offered to other European nationals on the basis of factors such as medical condition, age, whether families were traveling with small children. Compelling personal reasons were also taken into account.

The UK organised flight was next to organise a repatriation flight. With EUD support in particular in terms of ground handling, this flight airlifted 215 persons representing 12 nationalities to London Stansted on 7 April. Next, a consular coordination exercise filled about half the seats on a French-organised feeder flight to Dakar, Senegal, on 15 April. From there on, these 62 passengers from 11 countries boarded a larger aircraft that transported them to Paris.

Meanwhile, citizens keep coming forward, registering with their Embassies, and looking for a flight home. The Swedes, who saw their numbers rising, decided to send over a flight to The Gambia to pick them up. This time, the EUD was involved primarily in obtaining the special landing permit and in ensuring a calm, smooth and well- organised ground handling on the day of the flight. On 17 April, another 251 passengers left The Gambia for Sweden. Eight different nationalities were on board this eighth repatriation flight.

Two more repatriation flights departing from Banjul International Airport, organised by the Dutch and Spanish governments this time and both operated under the umbrella of the UCPM, brought home a total of 90 and 298 stranded European citizens and residents, respectively. 

All in all, on 10 repatriation flights, 2.056 European nationals were repatriated to Europe so far from The Gambia. It is the result of unflinching cooperation in a spirit of solidarity among European countries, something the EUD in Banjul is very proud to be part of.

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