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Gambia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Gambia has remained wary of relaxing restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, particularly as cases jumped to over 3,000 at the start of September 2020 after not passing 100 until mid-July. A lack of medical resources means Gambia will be highly vulnerable in the event of an exponential rise in infections, so a curfew has remained in place along with restrictions on public gatherings.President Adama Barrow is likely to remain strongly opposed by his former United Democratic Party (UDP), which in November 2019 expelled eight of its MPs for supporting Barrow's decision to renege on an informal pre-election agreement to stand down after three years. The UDP remains the largest party in the National Assembly, while Barrow has formed the National People's Party and has been criticised for violent repression of the Three Years Jotna movement. Gambia is continuing, with some success, to source substantial foreign investment after years of stagnation under the dictatorial and kleptocratic rule of Yahya Jammeh. The EU signed a EUR225-million support package in February 2019, while another EUR155 million in development bank loans announced in early 2020 will support agricultural and renewable energy projects. China is likely to continue to be strongly courted as the most likely source of funding for major projects.Attempts to capitalise on potentially lucrative offshore oil blocks situated in an area where major discoveries have been made in Senegalese waters are awaiting the result of an arbitration process, after Gambia removed the rights from original holder African Petroleum, which sought legal recourse.Improved political stability, a recovering tourism sector, and the return of bilateral investment partners offering financial support led IHS Markit to increase Gambia's GDP growth forecasts to 5.1% for 2020 and 5% in 2021; however, these figures have been revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic to a 3.1% contraction and 3.1% growth, respectively.
Last update: September 9, 2020

Operational Outlook

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.

Last update: December 6, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

The Economic Community of West African States extended the ECOMIG peacekeeping force’s mandate to August 2020 to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated security measures, and its future is unclear now that date has passed. Concerns remain over the admittedly waning possibility of elements of the Gambian security forces conspiring with exiled former high-ranking officials. President Barrow asked in January 2018 for doubling of the ECOMIG contingent to 1,000, after its phasing down previously. Only in September 2018 did Senegal-trained Gambian soldiers take over responsibility for guarding the president. The risk of kidnap, armed attacks, and robbery by Casamance rebels along southern highways is diminishing further.

Last update: September 10, 2020

Crime

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, tropical hardwoods, 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.

Last update: September 10, 2020

War Risks

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 alleviating recriminations.

Last update: September 9, 2020

Social Stability

Elevated

Greater democratic freedom is bringing more political, civil-society, and union demonstrations, which were previously rare. In response, the security forces have demonstrated an increasing tendency to use violence. Police used tear gas on 26 January 2020 to disperse protesters of the Three Years Jotna movement calling for President Adama Barrow to stand down. Red Cross sources said 28 people were hospitalised, while 137 arrests were made, and subsequently the movement was banned as a "subversive" organisation. The Barrow Youth Movement and Barrow Fans Club linked to the president are increasingly likely to break up and inflict violence on opposition and civil-society protests when they resume after COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

Last update: September 10, 2020

Health Risk

Severe

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.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +220
Ambulance: 16
Police: 17
Fire Dept.: 18

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019