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False; Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans not banned from travelling to UAE

Claim: Ghana, Sierra Leone, and 18 other African countries have been banned from travelling to the United Arab Emirates.

No official source of communication has corroborated the information that the United Arab Emirates has issued a visa ban on Ghana and Sierra Leone, even though some other African countries like Nigeria have suffered some restrictions on some categories of visas.

Full text

On the night of Tuesday, October 25, 2022, information widely made the rounds in Ghana that the United Arab Emirates had placed a 30-day visa ban on citizens of Ghana as well as 18 other African countries and one non-African country. According to the information, published by national mainstream news media portals, such as citinewsroom, and international news outlets like The BBC NEWS PIDGIN and DW Africa, effective October 18, authorities from the UAE  would not be posting 30 days visa applications for the affected countries. 

Sierraloaded, an online portal in Sierra Leone, also reported that a ban had been placed on Sierra Leone.

“Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced a visa ban slapped on Sierra Leoneans and 20 other nationalities seeking to visit Dubai with immediate effect,” excerpts of the publication read.

Except for the Dominican Republic, all other  countries purportedly are in Africa. Aside from Ghana and Sierra Leone, the other countries supposedly affected in  Africa include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea,  Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, The Gambia, and Togo. To ascertain its veracity, DUBAWA has independently verified the information.

Verification

By the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, a member state can impose a travel ban on listed individuals by preventing transit or entry into their country. These listed persons must be deemed to have committed or are likely to commit acts of terrorism and other human rights abuses.

Also, by International Health Regulation (2005), countries can impose travel bans “to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease…” 

As part of DUBAWA’s verification in Ghana, we combed the website of the United Arab Emirates, but no news was found on the ban. Though Citinewsroom did not name its source, our contact at the online news portal indicates the information was sourced from DW Africa, which, according to our source, was the first to publish the story. But DW Africa itself did not attribute the claim to anyone in particular. DUBAWA then proceeded to verify from official sources at the Embassy. 

DUBAWA’s independent checks at the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Accra have revealed that the UAE has not placed any visa ban whatsoever on Ghanaians. According to Mikdad Mohammed of the Trade and Investment Desk at the Embassy, who is also in charge of media relations, while it is true that the UAE has issued stricter visa terms for some African countries, including Nigeria, it is false that Ghana is part of the affected countries. He explains that the UAE has restricted certain visa categories to, for example, Nigerians under 40, except those applying for family visas, due to their likelihood of overstaying, adding that Ghanaians are exempted from all of those ‘stricter’ restrictions. He, thus, urges the Ghanaian community to treat the Tuesday information in the public domain as “unsubstantiated rumours”.

“You can quote me anywhere. There is no official ban on visa issuance [to Ghanaians]. We are still issuing visas to the public without any hindrance.

“Stricter visa terms have been issued for some other African countries, including Nigeria, but the same has not been extended to Ghana. Treat news of the visa ban as uninstantiated rumours,” he urges.

Mikdad Mohammed, Trade and Investment Desk, United Arab Emirates Embassy in Accra.

Mikdad’s information has been confirmed by the Embassy Public Relations Officer (PRO), Haruna Abdul Rashid. When DUBAWA sought to know the nature of the relationship between Ghana and the United Arab Emirates, Mikdad replied that a solid tie exists between the two countries.  

In Sierra Leone, DUBAWA reached out to Mohamed Massaquoi, Press & Information Attache for Sierra in the UAE, through his Facebook Messenger to verify the statement and determine the conditions under which those bans, if true, were imposed.

“There is no ban on Sierra Leoneans, as of this time of responding to you!” Massaquoi replied, adding that the UAE has not communicated any information regarding a travel ban on Sierra Leone to the Embassy. 

The Press Attache on the alleged UAE travel ban on Sierra Leoneans at  the Embassy vehemently dismissed the assertion concerning the travel ban on Sierra Leoneans, adding that such information has not come to the notice of the Embassy.

“The attention of the Sierra Leone Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been drawn to social media reports claiming the UAE Government has issued a visa ban on Sierra Leoneans and several African nationals. The Embassy wishes to state that it has NOT received any information on the same from official sources in the UAE and therefore considers the said reports being circulated as false and misleading,” the release disclosed. “Consequently, we encourage all Sierra Leoneans planning to visit the UAE on tourism and business purposes to go ahead with their visa applications as planned,” the press statement added. 

Press Statement from the SL Embassy in UAE, debunking the alleged travel ban on Sierra Leone nationals to the Emirates.

DUBAWA also contacted Sierraloaded, the platform that published the story, to find the source of the claim, but there has since been no response from the media organisation.

Conclusion

According to official information, the United Arab Emirates has not issued any visa ban for Ghanaians and Sierra Leoneans willing to emigrate to that country. 

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