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Oct 17, 2014

West African Visitors Banned from Landing in Belize

Godwin Hulse

A regional response to the threat of Ebola in the Caribbean earlier this week, prompted several island nations, including the government of St. Lucia and Jamaica to restrict the influx of visitors from hot zones in West Africa.  On Wednesday, prime ministers Kenny Anthony and Portia Simpson-Miller embargoed the arrival of passengers from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in St. Lucia and Jamaica, respectively.  Thursday’s scare has forced the Barrow administration to follow suit.  This morning, during the P.M.’s press conference, Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse outlined a similar plan of action, but extended the ban to include Nigeria.  Where it concerns cruise ship arrivals, all passengers alighting the vessels will need to present travel documents to indicate their journeys during a thirty-day period.

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration

“We have immediately issued a stop on the issuance of visas to persons coming from the West Africa area who we consider high risk.  And those countries will be Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and any other country that the ministry thinks has now been affected.  Nigeria is a special case because although it’s a Commonwealth country it requires visas and even though they have declared that they are free we consider the persons traveling from Nigeria a risk.  Sierra Leone, on the other hand, does not require any visa to come to, Sierra Leonean citizens do not visas to enter Belize so we will issue a travel ban on persons coming from Sierra Leone.  Our embassies are being advised immediately, the airlines are being advised of this decision forthwith.  In addition, persons from whatever nationality who have visited that area of West Africa within the last thirty days will not be allowed to land in Belize and the airlines will be advised accordingly.  The way we are going to handle the cruise ships, we have established a protocol, as you may or may not know.  There is a team that boards the cruise ship to screen the manifest and the passengers who want to land in Belize and as I understand it, I do have my immigration team here and my C.E.O., I recognize them, as I understand it persons who would travel beyond the tourism village would be the ones who would present themselves to immigration for the necessary clearance to land.  Persons who would remain within the vicinity of the tourism village were only ticked off on the manifest.  Effective immediately, that protocol has changed.  Every single person who will disembark from a cruise ship the passport of such persons will be reviewed by immigration to ensure that no person has been in the high risk area of West Africa within the last thirty days.”

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