The Antigua and Barbuda government has announced that it will be tightening entry requirements for visitors from West Africa, in response to the arrival of over 600 West Africans, mostly Cameroonians, in the country last December.
The Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, revealed this during a conversation with the new French Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Francis Etienne.
The Prime Minister explained that some of the individuals who arrived had exploited the government’s attempt to establish an air bridge between the Eastern Caribbean and Africa, using Antigua and Barbuda as a stopover before continuing on to the United States.
As a result, the government has suspended Antigua Airways flights and will now only allow visitors who have visas to the US, Canada, the UK, the EU, or the Caribbean to land in the country.
While acknowledging that the new measures are discriminatory, the Prime Minister noted that they were an unfortunate outcome of the government’s efforts to establish closer links between Africa and the Caribbean.
In addition, the Prime Minister has stated that he does not intend to accept the migrants who left the country in a small vessel in the hope of reaching the US via the US Virgin Islands.
He has asked the French ambassador for assistance in this regard and suggested that the migrants could be returned to Cameroon.
However, he acknowledged that some of the migrants had claimed that returning to Cameroon would put their lives in danger.
The French Ambassador promised to discuss the issue of border security with the Prime Minister of Dominica and would raise Antigua and Barbuda’s overture then.
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