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      Namibian student stranded at Istanbul airport for two weeks

      by Ester Mbathera

      Linda Nambili

      A NAMIBIAN woman was left stranded at Istanbul International Airport in Turkey after she was refused entry into Russia due to Covid-19 restrictions placed on Namibians.

      Linda Nambili boarded a plane from Manchester in the United Kingdom (UK) on 27 August to the Namibian embassy in Moscow, in Russia, where she was to renew her Ukrainian study visa.

      Nambili is studying towards a qualification in international relations.

      She was visiting her sister Letty Nambili, who lives in the UK, for the summer holidays.

      While in the UK, Nambili's study visa was nearing expiry and she was advised by the Ukrainian authorities to renew it either in South Africa or Angola because of the passport she holds.

      “We replied to them saying it was impossible as Namibia was under lockdown, and she could also not go to Angola as that country's borders were closed too, I believe. They asked her to present her documents to the Namibian embassy in Russia,” Letty says.

      She says her sister was denied entry into Russia because of the Namibian passport she holds.

      As a result she was sent back to the UK via Turkey from where she was to transit to London.

      “During that process, I called the Ukrainian embassy here to see if she could come back and do the paperwork here in the UK. They said if she could not do it at any of the locations they have given her, she could come back and do it in the UK,” Letty says.

      Nambili could not connect directly to Manchester because there are no direct flights from Istanbul.

      Currently all flights into the UK have to go via London, where passengers have to quarantine for 10 days at their own cost. This would cost her about N$49 000.

      Nambili allegedly refused to go the said route, and as a result was declared an inadmissible passenger and could not leave Turkey. She then had to live at the airport for almost two weeks.

      Letty says her sister was recently admitted to a local hospital in Istanbul.

      “She got sick two days ago. They [the Turkish authorities] took her to the hospital. I had to cover her hospital bill, because she didn't have travel insurance. I called a friend of a friend to pick her up from the hospital, otherwise she would have gone back to the airport,” Letty says.

      Isik Eratay from the visa and consular department in the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs in a communication to the Namibian embassy in Berlin seen by The Namibian says they cannot help Nambili as she is refusing their proposal.

      Eratay says because she has a visa to Turkey she could enter that country.

      “She rejected to enter Turkey and insists on travelling directly to Manchester, which is not really possible under these circumstances. Within the framework of the above-mentioned conditions, we couldn't find a way to help her. We think the solution is in her hands at this stage,” Eratay says.

      The director of information and research in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Bertha Amakali, has confirmed that they are aware of Nambili's situation.

      “The ministry cannot make a decision as to where Ms Nambili should go. She is the only one who can make the decision to leave Istanbul for London and get quarantined, or come back home,” Amakali says.

      She advises Namibians travelling abroad and finding themselves in similar positions to inform Namibian diplomatic missions.

      Amakali further appeals to all travellers to familiarise themselves with the health regulations of the countries they wish to travel to, and to adhere to them.

      Because Nambili has the status of inadmissible passenger, the Turkish authorities are keeping her passport, which will be given to her when she boards a plane to her next destination.

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