Belgium blocks Kigali bound passengers from boarding SN Brussels flight

Kigali bound passengers on SN Brussels were on Tuesday, August 4 barred from boarding their flight to Kigali by Belgian authorities.

The decision was explained to the passengers as part of the implementation of travel restrictions to reduce incoming flow at external borders of the European Union as well as discouraging outbound travel of EU citizens and residents to reduce vulnerability against Covid-19. 

 

The move affected not only Belgian citizens and residents seeking to travel to Rwanda but also citizens and residents (who hold EU resident permits) of other European Union countries.

 

Passengers were informed that only those considered travelling for essential purposes such as work, funeral and medical reasons with attestations to prove it would be allowed to board.

 

“I am in Brussels now and half of our flight have been turned away! It's absolute chaos! No one knows what they are doing,” a Kigali bound passenger who spoke anonymously said.

Another passenger who was traveling to Kigali as a tourist to be reunited with her partner told The New Times that in her planned travel to Kigali, she was confident of Rwanda's efforts to curb the pandemic. The German citizen said that she would attempt to travel to Kigali via another city.

"I am well informed about the situation in the country and I think Rwanda is doing an incredible job against   Covid-19. I am happy with the steps that the government has taken and glad that the airport is finally open. I am not afraid of coming and will try via another country," she said. 

Another Kigali bound passenger from Germany told The New Times that he was stopped from boarding despite having evidence to prove his long term contractual obligations in Kigali.

However, the European Union Embassy in Kigali distanced itself from the move saying that it was not an EU directive but rather a Belgian one.

The Belgian Embassy in Kigali told The New Times that they had learnt of the incident and were in contact with the Belgian government to understand the developments before commenting further.

Rwanda has been listed as one of the few countries globally that put ideal measures in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Kigali International Airport was opened on August 1 with measures set up to test arriving passengers. 

Tourism facilities across the country have also been re-opened with measures set up by the Ministry of Health to curb vulnerability. 

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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