Invited to take part in the African Security Conference in Rabat, a Ghanaian citizen has been denied entry to Morocco.
Rabat – “Distress Ghanaian Citizen Needs Help Now,” read the subject of an email that a Ghanaian citizen, who identified himself as Joseph Kwesi Mbir, sent to Morocco World News today.
In the email, Mbir explained that authorities at the Mohammed V Airport refused to issue him a visa despite having all the documents required to have a visa upon entry.
According to the documents attached to his email, Mbir is a technology savvy and “creative entrepreneur” with 15 years of experience in the field of media and security. Given his interest in the intersection between security and technology, he had requested to be invited to participate in the African Security Exhibition and Conference (Asec Expo).
His request was granted, and Asec sent him an invitation letter as well as other accompanying documents.
Upon reaching Casablanca, however, he was told that authorities had received no confirmation about his participation in the Asec Expo.
He wrote in the email, addressing the Ghanaian embassy: “I traveled from Ghana to morocco on 20th February 2019 on an invitation to attend Asec Expo and African security conference going in Morocco now at Rabat.
“I was given a visitor Invitation Letter to the expo and the conference and letter got visa confirmation letter issued by the minister of foreign affairs in morocco by the promise from the organizers that I will be given visa on arrival which has approved by the foreign affairs ministry in Morocco.”
Mbir reached Morocco yesterday, February 20, at around 10 am. He showed his documents to the authorities at the airport, in addition to his certifications as an entrepreneur in the security industry.
The immigration officers, however, “said they don’t have confirmation of my details in there [sic] system so therefore I can’t be granted entry due to that I have been confined in a room at the airport from morning till now.”
In his plea to the Ghanaian embassy, Mbir stressed that he only traveled to Morocco to attend the conference and has no intention to stay in the country after the conference. He requested that the embassy “kindly come as soon as possible to help me resolve this and leave this airport because my health is at stake due to the area am now.”
No grave mistreatment
But Mbir insisted that the airport’s immigration authorities did not in any way “mishandle” him. He said he was “just” left in a room where he could not stay any longer because of health concerns.
“I have not been mishandled by any officer but the environment I have been put is not good for my health and other factors. As I write I can’t communicate with my family at home because my access is limited because I have no credits on the local line I bought to make calls and can’t go out and get some, I have money but can’t access anything because i have been confined.”
By the time Morocco World News received Mbir’s email, it was understood that he was still confined at the airport and his situation had not changed. The Ghanaian embassy had not responded to his cry for help.
Morocco World News subsequently contacted the organizers of the African Security Conference for their version of events.
According to the Asec organizing committee, Mbir was not their only “participants” to have been given a hard time at the Mohammed V Airport. Some two or three other participants “experienced the same thing,” only to be later allowed entry after the committee confirmed their “participant status.”
But what is particular about Mbir’s case? Why were others later allowed to attend the conference while he is still in a waiting room at the airport, with no freedom of movement and limited access to means of communication?
“At this stage, we do not have the final say. The airport’s authorities are the ones that can decide, based on their own criteria, to accord or not to accord entry to a person. We did our best by providing all our participants and guests with all the necessary papers to get a visa,” the head of the organizing committee told Morocco World News.
When told that Mbir was in need of help and had tried to reach his embassy, she added, sounding apologetic, “I think we also received an email like that, but I’m really sorry that we can’t do anything at this stage. I’m especially sorry because this [the African Security Conference] is supposed to be an event that promotes greater intra-African cooperation. So, of course, we would like to have as many African representatives as possible. But I’m sure the immigration officers have their own reasons for denying him entry.”
Morocco World News reached out to the Ghanaian embassy to know whether they had received Mbir’s email and what was being done to resolve his situation. But the embassy was unreachable after numerous attempted calls. Neither did they call back.
In recent years, Morocco has doubled security regarding entry to the Moroccan territory. The goal has been to curb the number of sub-Saharan migrants using Morocco as a transit country to reach the EU.
In an unprecedented move last summer, Rabat ended a visa-free agreement with three African countries, namely Guinea, Mali, and the Republic of Congo. Citizens from those three countries now need an e-visa to enter Morocco.
And while Mbir has not complained about being othered or mistreated by Moroccan immigration officers, complaints of differential and prejudiced treatment of African (black) travelers are no news for airports regulars.
The Asec Expo started yesterday and ends today at 7 p.m., Moroccan time.
Meanwhile, Mbir, who did not get to participate in the event, will only leave his confinement tomorrow night.
“But they said is [sic] only tomorrow night that they can get return flight for me to go back to Ghana,” he wrote in the email.