Team mentor is denied visa, in move members say will affect their trip to competition in Washington
Five Gambian high school pupils initially rejected visas by the U.S. Embassy in Banjul have been cleared to travel.
However, the application of Muckhtarr Darboe, the team’s mentor and coach, who was supposed to accompany the team, was denied. No reason was given for the denial.
“Our visas have been issued,” Fatoumata Sisay, one of the pupils, told Gambian online media GBC. “But our mentor’s visa has not been issued. No reason has been given, and this will surely affect our trip.”
When the team’s visa application was earlier denied on Tuesday, it led to an uproar.
The Gambian team was the second to be refused visas, after their colleagues from Afghanistan were also turned down from attending the global competition.
The pupils age 16 to 18 had assembled a robot to take part in the first global robotics competition scheduled for July 16 in Washington, D.C.
Gambia is overwhelmingly Muslim, and U.S. President Donald Trump has spoke publicly of his intention to severely or halt restrict visas for Muslims. Gambia is not, however, one of the countries targeted by Trump's controversial visa ban, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.