invisible discrimination

…imagine – you are a citizen of Sierra Leone living in Liberia and you are a professional with experience in international development/ humanitarian sector/ emergency work. You have an offer to go to Haiti and assist in implementation of disaster relief program by an aid agency.

The cheapest and in a way simplest way to get to Haiti is via USA, however USA has refused to issue you visa. Reason is unclear and formal rather than constructive. Second easiest and cheapest option is to go via EU or to be more precise – France. In order to get visa for France you have to go to Cote D’Ivoire, Abidjan, because embassy of France in Liberia does not issue visas. It means, you have to go to Abidjan, which is roughly 800km away, by plane (because roads are bad and also unsafe). You can fly by Ethiopian airlines there via Accra which would be the same as to fly from Glasgow to London via Paris. Round trip would cost you about 370GBP.

Even though you go there, you still dont have any guarantee that you will actually get your visa and if yes, then how soon. You may need to stay and wait in Abidjan days and maybe weeks.

Third option would be to try to avoid both USA and EU as obtaining (transit) visa for other countries could be easier. The only route which I could identify, was a 5-days long journey from Monrovia (Liberia) to Haiti via Nairobi (Kenya), Dubai, Sao Paulo and Panama. If you look in the map, in no way you can consider this as a reasonable option. And, oh, yes, by the way, it would cost about 5000GBP.


How can we talk about global village, about global opprtunities and ‘shrinkage’ of the world, if there is a continent which is, as you can see, physically isolated and inaccessible.

Aid agency which selected you because of your professional qualifications and experience may be at the end of the day forced to discriminate you and select somebody else because there are institutional, infrastructural, physical and possibly political obstacles to your integration in the global humanitarian community, because there wont be ways how to get you from West Africa to Haiti.

This all made me sad today. Non-discrimination in words means nothing if there are actions and systems which entail obvious discriminatory practices.


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