As travelers in foreign lands we rarely take time to study the political environments of the places we go to in detail. However, political developments can escalate rapidly, and cause disruptive or even dangerous situations for travelers abroad.

After 22 years in power, Gambian president Yahya Jammeh was defeated in elections in December 2016. Despite initially accepting the outcome of the election Jammeh proceeded to reject the results and state that he would not concede power. After a period of internal political unrest the situation escalated when Yammeh declared a national state of emergency on 17 January. The following day a coalition of ECOWAS nations declared that they were prepared to ensure the power shift according to the election result by force if necessary.

SAFEY sent out warnings on the 17th and 18th of January regarding these events with warnings due to the risk of internal unrest and the possibility of an imminent military intervention.

During the next days tensions mounted as tens of thousands of Gambians fled in anticipation of unrest. Some travel operators began evacuating passengers. On 19 January, when the deadline for Jammeh to step down had passed West African coalition troops crossed the border, and minor skirmishes with Gambian troops were reported. Shortly thereafter the Gambian army chief, who had previously pledged allegiance to Jammeh, declared that the armed forces would step down. Late on 20 January, Jammeh accepted defeat and went into exile the following day. During these events SAFEY Emergency System provided timely updates on the developments on the ground through the SAFEY app.

The events in Gambia presented an unusual and rapidly developing crisis with domestic and international implications. SAFEY services can assist you in staying abreast of such disruptive political developments and making early decisions to ensure your safety during travel.