By: Wonder Guchu
The international relations ministry says it is aware of a Namibian student by the name of Linda Dahalako Nambili, who is currently stranded in transit at Istanbul Airport in Turkey.
Nambili’s predicament was first reported by The Villager a few days ago.
The 38-year-old has been stuck at Istanbul Airport because of the Covid-19 red list that has categorised the southern African country as a hotspot.
Nambili is an international relations student at Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University, Lutsk.
She ended up in Turkey after Moscow returned her back because of her Namibian passport.
At the time, Nambili was flying Turkish Airlines from Manchester, UK. The authorities in Moscow denied her entry and she flew back to Turkey where she was held at the Istanbul airport.
If she had to return to the UK, she would have to be quarantined at a cost of 2 000 British pounds (N$40 000) for 10 days in a hotel.
“I had enough money to buy another ticket to my destination, but now I can only demand a refund,” Nambili told The Villager a few days ago.
A statement issued by Bertha Amakali, Director of Information & Research in the international relations ministry says they reached out to Nambili through the Namibian Embassy in Berlin.
The statement also says that the international relations ministry had reached out to the Turkish Embassy in Windhoek in trying to address Nambili’s situation.
According to the statement, the ministry wanted to find out why Nambili was detained as alleged through various social media platforms.
“The Turkish authorities have indicated that Ms. Nambili has not been detained as alleged. Ms. Nambili refused to be deported to London, but wants to go to Manchester instead, and demands that the Turkish airline foots her bill for her quarantine, if she has to go to London.
“Ms. Nambili insists on traveling directly to Manchester, which is not possible, and this has been made clear to her,” the statement says.
The international relations ministry says they cannot make a decision as to where 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. There is also no direct flight from Istanbul to Manchester, according to the Turkish authorities,” the ministry says.
In addition, the ministry appealed to Namibians who find themselves stranded abroad to seek help from the embassies.
“Our Embassies can provide guidance and assist in handling such situations, but cannot decide on behalf of individuals,” the statement says, adding that all those travelling should familiarize themselves with COVID-19 protocols.
NEGATIVE PCR TEST RESULT
Nambili says she had a negative PCR test that was only eligible for two days. This has already lapsed while being stuck in the terminal.
She cannot leave the airport because to do so Nambili must make a booking via TURKIY E-VISA for a hotel reservation.
Nambili claims that this too is not working because her passport has been withheld to stop her from leaving the airport.
Nambili says she has experienced embarrassing public humiliation.
“I cannot properly wash myself because the toilets are not ideal. I am not allowed to buy toiletries as the officials are preventing me from leaving this area of the airport.
“I see this as a racist act, violation of my human rights and the ill-treatment for a fellow human. I have not violated any law of the land,” she says.
Nambili tells The Villager that she now fears for her life because every time she tries to leave the transit area, they threaten her.
“I fear to eat anything they offer me because they are capable of doing anything. I don’t even want to collect my luggage because they might put something illegal to trap me. They removed my luggage tags,” she narrates.
According to Nambili, she has been sleeping on the seats in the terminal since the 28th of August.
“The meals here are just not normal. I am living on water at the moment,” Nambili said.
Nambili was coming from Manchester and wanted to renew her visa to Ukraine but when she presented her passport at Istanbul, the authorities treated her as if she had travelled from Namibia.
She, however, never came to Namibia, and was all this time entirely based in Europe.
“I was on holiday with a family member in the UK as the college that I attend in Ukraine had shifted our course entirely online. We were encouraged not to be on campus,” she says.
The institute where she is enrolled at, Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University in Lutsk could not get hold of Nambili while she was in the UK.
“They wanted to remind me to extend my student visa, but the invitation letter was issued late on their part, and this was right before the UK visa would also expire,” she says.
EMAIL FROM TURKISH EMBASSY
An email Turkish foreign affairs ministry dated 8 September and sent to the Namibian Embassy in Germany confirms that Nambili was denied entry to Russia because of Covid-19 restrictions.
“She was denied to enter to Moscow and had to fly back to İstanbul where she had passed in transit.
“She couldn’t fly back to Manchester from İstanbul because direct flights are not allowed to Manchester from İstanbul while direct flights from Manchester to Istanbul are available due to temporary pandemic restriction.
“Passengers who travel to İstanbul directly from Manchester have to travel first to London and then continue Manchester on their return to UK.
“Everyone who travels to UK from Turkey has to stay in quarantine for 10 days under pandemic conditions,” the email says.
According to the email, there is no way to make exceptions to the rules.
“As mentioned in your note, Ms. Nambili Linda Dahalako wants to fly directly to Manchester instead of flying directly to London to refrain from the quarantine for 10 days and not to cover the hotel expenses during the quarantine period.
“We’ve learnt that she has a valid visa to Turkey but she rejects to enter Turkey and insists to travel 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 that the solution is in her hands at this stage.”