Gambia Country Report
Strike action in Gambia remains rare, with little sign that unions have stepped up activity after the repression of the Yahya Jammeh dictatorship, when any form of organised protest was usually met with brutal treatment. The private sector is relatively small, in any case, and most labour unrest is likely to continue to be characterised by short-lived stoppages carried out by public-sector professionals such as doctors, lecturers, and teachers. Corruption levels have fallen significantly from the kleptocratic Jammeh era, although influence peddling and demands for facilitation payments from senior office holders are starting to reappear. At lower levels, though, there is little evidence of an ingrained culture of graft.
The ECOMIG peacekeeping force in Gambia has had its mandate extended from March to August 2020 by the Economic Community of West African States, to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated security measures. Concerns remain over the admittedly waning possibility of hostile elements of the Gambian security forces conspiring with exiled high-ranking former officials. President Barrow had asked in January 2018 for the ECOMIG contingent to be doubled to 1,000 after previously being phased down. Only in September 2018 did Senegal-trained Gambian soldiers take over responsibility for guarding the president. The risk of kidnap, sporadic armed attacks, and robbery by Casamance rebels along southern highways is diminishing further.
Crime levels in Gambia have been relatively low historically, with the most common problems remaining petty theft and minor assaults in crowded places and tourist-frequented areas, including beaches. The security forces have maintained a firm control on the civilian population in a country where weapons do not circulate freely, although a shop owner was shot dead by robbers on New Year's Eve 2017. Gambia is increasingly becoming a transit country for money laundering and trafficking in arms, drugs, diamonds, and stolen goods. Gambia is not a signatory to the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the UN Convention against Corruption.
A court sentenced seven soldiers to nine years in prison on 27 May 2019 for a 2017 plot attempting to overthrow newly installed President Adama Barrow. The chance of another plot getting off the ground has since diminished significantly as Barrow secures his rule. Many Jammeh-era loyalists remain in the military, intelligence, and police services, however, and around 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Sukuta on 16 January 2020 to demand the former president be allowed to return. Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said three days later, though, that Jammeh would be immediately arrested if he tried to return. The ongoing truth and reconciliation hearings are also playing a significant part in reducing tensions.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over nine months of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Gambia's climate is subtropical and the country experiences two seasons. During the dry season (October to June), the Harmattan, a dry and dusty trade wind from the Sahara, often blows across the country between December to February. The rainy season lasts from July until November and often brings with it torrential rains and tornados. Temperatures are constant and high throughout the year and conditions are often sunny.
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