China tough­ens travel re­stric­tions on West Africans

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

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.

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