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Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 00:16 UK

Spain in Gambian migrant mix-up

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A Spanish plane deporting more than 100 illegal immigrants to The Gambia has been forced to return to Spain with the migrants on board.

Gambian authorities refused to let the deportees disembark, saying Madrid had not given them enough time to prepare.

Spanish officials expressed surprise, saying The Gambia had approved the repatriation.

The migrants were being returned under an immigration accord signed between the two countries in 2006.

The plane was left stranded at Banjul airport for seven hours before being cleared to return.

It landed back in the Canary Islands late on Friday.

"The Gambian authorities were not ready to receive the migrants in that short time," Gambian ambassador to Spain, Kebba Touray, said.

He told Reuters the two governments were now thrashing out a new date for the migrants to be sent home to Gambia.

Spanish news agency Efe reported that many of the migrants would exceed the maximum time in detention this week, and may be set free.


SEE ALSO
Spain begins anti-migration ads
20 Sep 07 |  Africa
Country profile: The Gambia
04 Mar 08 |  Country profiles


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