China toughens travel restrictions on West Africans
ABUJA — The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, in central Nigeria, has accused the West of ignoring the threat of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram. Ignatius Kaigama said the world had to show more determination to halt the group’s advance in Nigeria. He said the international community had to show the same spirit and resolve it had done after the attacks in France. His warning came after 23 people were killed by three female suicide bombers, one reported to be 10 years old. The weekend attacks come after reports that hundreds of people were killed last week during the capture by Boko Haram of the town of Baga in Borno state. In the neighbouring country of Cameroon, the military said it had repelled an attack by Boko Haram insurgents on one of its northern bases. A military source told the BBC that the insurgents had come in over the Nigerian border. In the exchange of gunfire, the army says one soldier and several insurgents were killed. ‘Depraved’ Archbishop Kaigama said the slaughter in Baga had shown that the Nigerian military was unable to tackle Boko Haram. “It is a monumental tragedy. It has saddened all of Nigeria. But... we seem to be helpless. Because if we could stop Boko Haram, we would have done it right away. But they continue to attack, and kill and capture territories... with such impunity,” he said. On Sunday, two female suicide attackers killed four people and injured more than 40 people in the town of Potiskum. A day earlier, another young female suicide bomber, reported to be 10 years old, struck in the main city of north-east Nigeria, Maiduguri, killing at least 19 people. Archbishop Kaigama said facing down Boko Haram required international support and unity of the type that had been shown after last week’s militant attacks in France. “We need that spirit to be spread around,” he said. “Not just when it (an attack) happens in Europe, but when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, in Cameroon. “We (must) mobilise our international resources and face or confront the people who bring such sadness to many families.” Mixed population In June, Britain said it would increase its military and educational aid to help Nigeria tackle Boko Haram. The aid includes counter-insurgency training for troops, which is also being provided by the US military. However, Nigeria has criticised the US for BEIJING — China has been quietly toughening travel restrictions on students and businessmen traveling from Ebola-hit West Africa even as it increases support to fight the deadly disease on the ground in the region, diplomats say.
Beijing-based ambassadors from Liberia and Sierra Leone, whose countries along with Guinea are the hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, say some of their nationals are staying away from China due to the new procedures.
No cases of Ebola have so far been reported in China.
“You have many Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leonians who come frequently to conduct business,” Dudley Thomas Mckinley, Liberia’s ambassador to China, said in an interview.
“Of course this has impacted them in a negative way and has slowed it down.
“It has impacted the numbers of people traveling to China from those regions, whether for business or for study,” he added, saying he planned to raise the concern with refusing to sell it weapons because of alleged human rights abuses committed by Nigerian troops. Jos, where the archbishop is based, has a mixed population of Muslims and Christians and has faced attacks by Islamist militants, although it is some distance from Boko Har- China’s Foreign Ministry.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied there was any change in visa policy for West African applicants.
Most West Africans enter China through the southern province of Guangdong, which neighbours Hong Kong. The Guangzhou Daily said 438 000 Africans, mostly traders, passed through the provincial capital from January to October last year.
Victor Bockarie Foh, Sierra Leone’s ambassador to China, said he himself faced stepped-up screening when he returned to Beijing after a recent trip to his home country.
“I came back and at the airport I was very rigorously examined,” he said, adding he did not fault China for stepping up restrictions on travelers from his country.
“If you fly with a disease like this, it is like flying with a bomb,” he said. “They (China) have not closed their doors. They are only being careful.”
Mckinley said Liberian students, including those on a government am’s strongholds. Last month more than 30 people were killed in twin bomb attacks on a market there. Churches have also been targeted in what are believed to be attempts by the militants to foment religious tension. A French-led initiative has called for Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad to contribute 700 troops each to a multinational force against Boko Haram, but no country has implemented the plan. Niger has blamed Nigeria, saying it has not kept to commitments regarding its own troop levels. — BBC
Cameroon troops patrol the border town of amchide in november 2014 as Yaounde has deployed hundreds of troops in the northeast of the country to counter the Islamist threat of Boko Haram.
Passengers arriving in China from africa undergo more rigorous testing than from elsewhere.