Teachers denied UK entry
TWENTY-THREE African teachers due to arrive in Carmarthenshire for a conference this Friday have had their visas blocked.
The organisers of the event said their entry to the UK has been refused over fears the teachers from Zanzibar will stay here illegally afterwards.
"It's just madness," said Cathryn MaCullen, of Carmarthen-based Sazani Associates, which has organised the exchange visit.
"We were told that being poor was the reason they're not able to come.
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"I think its quite sad. Ironically, the trip is being funded by the British Council."
She said everything was planned for the visit until the visas were refused last week.
The teachers from the Indian Ocean island, part of Tanzania, were due to attend a conference at the Botanic Garden on Friday.
Ms MaCullen said it was part of a well-established exchange project between schools in South West Wales and Zanzibar.
She added: "This link has been in existence for six years with active teacher visits for five years."
She said an appeal was being made as the Journal went to press to get the visa decision reversed.
A spokesman for the Home Office, which deals with visas, said he could not comment on specific cases.
He said: "The responsibility lies with each visa applicant to demonstrate they meet the requirements of the UK's immigration rules.
"Each application is considered on its merits. The rules are fair and apply to everyone."