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Mr A
Many Nigerians aboard Arik Air
and South Africa Airways flights
were refused entry to South
Africa on Friday.
The Southern Africa
correspondent of NAN reports
that the passengers were
denied entry by the South Africa
Port Health authority and the
immigration service on the
ground that they had invalid
yellow fever vaccination cards.
One of the passengers, Olaminde
Olaofe, told NAN that they
obtained their cards from
government authorised health
agencies in Nigeria and added:
``This is very embarrassing and
dehumanising. ``It is an
embarrassment not to us as
passengers alone but to the
Federal Government of Nigeria
that another country will say
the document we, as Nigerians,
obtained in our country is fake.
``We had arrived here about
5.30 a.m. and until now we are
still kept at the airport by the
immigration officer under the
claim that our yellow fever
cards are not recognised. ``Some
of us are not first time travellers
to South Africa and we had used
the same yellow card before to
enter the country. ``I obtained
my card from Eti-Osa Local
Government along with my
brother. While I am allowed
entry, my brother is held by the
immigration people.’’
Olaofe said 33 school children on
execution were also affected.
Arik Airline Zonal Manager in
South Africa, Kinsley Uzor, said
28 of the airline’s passengers
were returned to Nigeria on
Thursday. ``It is an unfortunate
incident, 28 of our passengers
who came on Thursday were
returned back to Nigeria today
by the immigration and the Port
Health authorities.’’
He added: ``50 of our passenger
in today’s flight are still at the
airport right now, we are still
trying to sort out the problem.
``The South Africa Immigration
and Port Health are saying that
they don’t recognise the yellow
cards and that signature on the
cards are irregular. ``We are not
the issuing authority for yellow
cards, our responsibility is to
carry our passengers once they
are cleared by the Nigeria port
authorities. ``Before now, even
if a passenger does not possess
yellow card, at the airport he or
she will be given vaccination,
with payment of 50 dollars.
``But the new South Africa law
says there should not be entry
into the country without the
vaccination card. ``Their
argument is that the law
stipulates that intending
travellers must get vaccination
10 days before they travel.’’
Uzor said the Nigerian High
Commission and the Consulate
were already intervening in the
matter. A Nigeria consulate
staff, who spoke with NAN
under condition of anonymity,
confirmed that Nigerian
authorities were aware of the
matter. ``We are aware of the
incident and we are working
with the High Commission to
resolve the matter,’’ the official
Meanwhile, Arik Air issued a
statement on Friday temporarily
suspending all flight operations
between Nigeria and South
Africa with immediate effect. A
statement signed by Isla
Moffett, Sales and Marketing
Manager of the company, stated
that the decision to suspend the
daily B737-800 service between
the two countries was taken
due to the ongoing dispute with
South African Port Health
authorities on yellow fever
documentation. ``Many of our
Nigerian passengers have been
detained and refused entry into
the country in the recent month.
``The Port Health authorities cite
as being incorrect or
unrecognised batch number on
the documentation which is
mandatory proof before
entrance to the country.’’
The statement said the situation
had escalated ``culminating in
over a hundred Nigerians and
West Africa passengers
travelling from the region being
refused entry ,including 50 Arik
passengers today. ``Arik have
reached the conclusion that the
irregular and obfuscating nature
of this protocol is having an
impact on its passengers and
does not wish to proceed with
operation into a country where
its customers are at risk of
detainment or any other
measure meted out arbitrarily
by the authorities.’’ In the
statement, the Chairman of Arik,
Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, said the
airline would not stand-by and
watch its passengers reach their
destination after overnight
flight only to be met with a
protocol and procedure that
was at best haphazard and at
worst discriminatory to many

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Xenophobia, that's the order of the day in South Africa.

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