The United States said Wednesday it had re-opened an embassy in Somalia’s capital, 28 years after it was shut as the country plunged into civil war, highlighting warming ties between the two nations.
Washington closed its embassy during the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos, however, diplomatic relations have strengthened in recent years.
“Today we reaffirm the relations between the American people and the Somali people and our two nations,” said Ambassador Donald Yamamoto in a statement.
“It is a significant and historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years, and another step forward in regularising U.S. diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the federal government of Somalia in 2013.”
A permanent diplomatic presence was established in Mogadishu in December 2018, however, was operated out of Nairobi.
The country continues to be wracked by an Islamist insurgency, and Al-Shabaab militants on Monday staged an attack on a military base that is a major launching site for US drone operations, as well as a European Union convoy.
US strikes in Somalia surged in April 2017, after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”.
“The United States remains a strong partner to Somalia in its effort to build a stable, credible, and democratic country,” said the statement.
Last week, some reports claimed that the U.S. immigration office had put a hold on issuing student’s visa, claiming that the decision was a new measure to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term US visas.
However, the U.S mission said claims are unfounded and urged the public to disregard the claims.
#FakeNews Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false. pic.twitter.com/1EvoiST6ak
The United States Embassy in Nigeria has reacted to the outcry over the rate at which applicants are being denied visa in the country.
In separate posts on its Twitter and Facebook handles on Monday, the embassy explained that it consular officers do not gain anything by denying those seeking to travel to the US visa.
It, however, appealed to Nigerians to join its visa officers live on Facebook on Wednesday to know why they were denied visa as a result of “commonly misunderstood questions” in the course of their applications.
The Twitter post read, “Contrary to popular opinion, Consular Officers do not enjoy refusing anyone a visa. Proof: Join us on Facebook for demonstrations on how to complete the DS 160 correctly. April 17 | 2:00pm #AskTheConsul.”
The Facebook post also read “Contrary to popular opinion, Visa Officers do not enjoy handing anyone the 214b refusal letter. Proof: Visa Officers will be live on Facebook to talk about some of the commonly misunderstood questions on the DS 160 and help you improve your next application.
“Join us on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at 2:00pm and #AskTheConsul your questions.”
But the explanation by the embassy has triggered various reactions from visa applicants on both Twitter and Facebook.
Most of them criticised the embassy and narrated their experience when they went for an interview.
Read some tweets below:
Dear Sir/Ma, I successfully completed the DS160 form. Was invited by UN in New York. I have a good job(been working for 10years) and good travel history. The consular asked me if am married, I said No. He said I do not qualify for a Visa.
I went for interview few days ago, after an hour of waiting and over 200 plus applicants , only 5 applicants visa was granted , mine also was refused and my propose of applying if because I want to attend a year program at @NYFA. So I believe the consular enjoy refusing a visa
After using our visa fee to drink coffee, the next action is to be dishing out blue paper with passion. U see smiles on their faces. Just a question & that’s why don’t u state reasons for visa denial,instead,u keep referring someone to the blue generic paper u gladly dish out?
I don’t trust ur https://t.co/SWnj6yEwoc consular intentionally deny Nigerian Visa.And its going out of hand.Out of 100 Nigerians that apply they will only give 5-10…….making others to loose their precious 65k.
Adaobi Emmanuella Njoku Contrary to what you just posted, I think and believe they actually do enjoy it because they act like they know it all and still end up giving visas to people without genuine intentions. I can’t wait for Wednesday to come because I have already prepared my questions down. They will explain to me how it is possible to deny one visa three times with three different reasons at different times when the form was filled exactly the same and for the same purpose. For a medical trip to help save ones child. I can’t wait for Wednesday.
Kelechi Okoh I have a great job, my husband, 2 kids, properties you still denied me visa for child birth because I do not have strong ties. Really! I can never leave my family for anything. Am alive and keep working because of them. I was shocked at the consular officer. She did not even look at any of my documents.
Adebayo Lastborn Adebola Even when you answer all questions, they will still deny you visa
Ogbeni Samuel Adeleke Adejimi Thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask questions relating to common mistakes that led to visa denial based on DS 160 form. I’ve had 5 different experience. Will surely join the consular officer by 2pm on Wednesday to ask my questions.
Akufai Valentine Jonah Had a terrible experience in 2013. I got scholarship to attend a conference in Denver but was denied visa. I was not angry because i was denied visa, I was angry in the manner of the disrespect from the consular officer. Imagine giving one that refusal letter and you are told off you go without any tangible explanation, after reading the letter, it states that i don’t have strong ties to my country either through being married, niether do i have a job and back then i use to work with an NGO and it was clearly stated in my application, i have forgotten the third excuse. I just laughed and left, I know people who are single then and are still single today that have gotten US visa, i know people who have no job but have gotten US visa, i know people who had zero travel experience but yet were granted US visa. Since that episode i have never ever applied for a U S visa because i don’t have any business there for now. Me, I would never get marry because i want to secure a US visa, Who sets the rule on what is “Strong ties”? Just a way to allow someone play “God”. For me, you get US visa base on which side of the bed the consular officer interviewing you wakes up from.
Eunice Erusiafe My son was denied 3 times without any reason, he is going 4 a open heart surgery,(congenital heart defect )d boy is going tru a lot of pains right now I pray God sends help 2 us.
Ufoeze Oge Uc To think I stood before a staff and the first thing he asked me was What does your husband do? I answered “Sir am not married” the next thing I heard was sorry ma you are not qualified for this visa. So it’s now a must to be married.
When people are sincere they are denied, I can’t lie because I want to go to another man’s land. Anyway na me find them go. Till Wednesday afternoon.
Bayo Akintunde #AskTheConsul This will be a very interesting session. To understand what drives visa officers decisions despite glaring evidences.
Adebiyi Oduyoye You should return the visa fee when you deny an applicant.
Akande Ademola Why then do you guys have delight in reject people even though their documents are genuine and their traveling intent is true
Mustapha Afinni I don’t need your visa even, if it’s free”
Kuti Oluwafuntan Abiola In a situation whr ds-160 was filled correctly buh b4 u answered the question bn asked by d consular,d refusal form is already in her hand…
Zanni Waherb Why not return the visa Fee after denying an applicant instead you chop d money and tell them to apply again😏😏😏like you did for me 2yrs ago.
The United States Embassy has resumed full consular services in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
In a tweet on Friday, the embassy apologised to Nigerians for the inconvenience the temporary closure had caused.
“Full Consular visa and American Citizen Services (ACS) resume in Abuja today. We regret the inconvenience the temporary closure of the Abuja Consular office caused. Good to be back!” it said.
The embassy had announced the temporary suspension of its consular services in the nation’s capital on Tuesday last week due to reasons beyond its control.
In a statement on Monday, it informed Nigerians that it would reopen its consular section today for full services for both visas and American Citizen Services (ACS).
While the consular functions at the U.S. Consulate Lagos were never affected in the first place, the embassy asked visa and ACS applicants with scheduled appointments for August 24 to come to the consulate in Abuja.
It added that visa and ACS applicants with cancelled appointments between August 13 and August 23 would be contacted for rescheduling.
Visa and ACS applicants who were requested by an officer to appear again for follow-up questions on existing applications were also asked to contact the embassy to arrange a new date.
The U.S. Embassy in the country had announced the suspension of its consular services in Abuja on Tuesday last week.
Although no reason was given for the decision, the embassy had said, because of the development, it would be temporarily unable to provide regular services for visa and American Citizen Services in Abuja.
Once full activities resume in Abuja on Friday, the embassy assured those who submitted a passport through the Interview Waiver Programme for visa renewal, that their applications would be processed as soon as possible.
The embassy also announced that if any applications had already been approved, they would be mailed out (as normal) on the next available DHL shipment to the listed addresses.
The United States Embassy has announced the temporary suspension of its consular services in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The embassy disclosed this on Tuesday. Although no reason was given, they noted that as a result, the embassy will temporarily be unable to provide regular services for visa and American Citizen Services in Abuja.
They, however, noted that consular functions at the U.S. Consulate Lagos are not affected and will continue.
“Due to reasons beyond our control we are temporarily unable to provide regular services for visa and American Citizen Services in Abuja, but other offices within the Embassy remain open.
“Please note that consular functions at the U.S. Consulate Lagos are not affected and will continue. Until further notice, applicants are encouraged to contact the Consular Office in Lagos for immediate emergency travel,” the statement read in part.
It disclosed further that scheduled visa and ACS applicants for Abuja would be contacted for rescheduling.
The U.S. embassy advised American citizens in Nigeria’s northern region with emergency services should contact the after-hours emergency number for Abuja on “09461-4000 and press ‘0’ to go to the operator to request assistance”.
It also asked American citizens in the northern part of the country with urgent travel needs, who were travelling before Tuesday and were willing to reschedule their travel through Lagos to contact the ACS office at Consulate Lagos via ‘01460 3400 and [email protected]’, to discuss their options.
“Those travelling after Tuesday should follow up with Abuja ACS to confirm their appointments closer to their scheduled date,” it added.
The embassy urged those willing to travel to the U.S. to monitor its Facebook handle and webpage for a later announcement of resumed consular operations in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
Two Palestinians have died from their wounds after being shot Monday by Israeli troops during protests in the Gaza Strip, the territory’s health ministry said Saturday.
The two men killed were 20-year-old Mohammed Mazen Alyan and 58-year-old Moein Abdel-Hamid Al-Saai, the Hamas-run ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said Alyan was wounded east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, while other medical sources reported Al-Saai was wounded to the east of Gaza City.
The deaths bring to 61 the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire on Monday when thousands of Palestinians protested as the US officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Since March 30, Palestinian marchers have been demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.
A total of 118 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire on the border between the Gaza Strip and the Jewish State since then, according to authorities in Gaza, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.
Israel says it has done everything it can to limit civilian casualties and has used lived ammunition only as a last resort.
The Israeli army accuses Hamas of using the cover of the demonstrations to approach and damage the border fence, including laying explosive devices and attacking soldiers, and insists its actions are necessary to defend the border and prevent mass infiltrations.
The Palestinian Authority has recalled its envoys to Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria after their ambassadors attended an Israeli reception marking the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, it said Wednesday.
The statement from the PA’s foreign ministry said the EU nations’ ambassadors had attended the reception on Sunday, a day before the US opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.
The embassy move and Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has deeply angered Palestinians, who see the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.
The ministry “sees this participation as a grave breach of international law and United Nations resolutions which confirm that Jerusalem has been occupied since 1967 and ban countries from moving their embassies there,” the statement said.
“The recalls are to consult with our ambassadors to these states about their positions and their commitment to the EU’s positions.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday withdrew his top envoy to Washington.
The European Union opposed the US move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The embassy move was accompanied by mass protests and clashes along the Gaza border that saw Israeli forces kill some 60 Palestinians.
Israel has faced international criticism over its use of live fire against demonstrators.
It says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop mass infiltrations from the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas.
Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. It sees the entire city as its capital.
File photo: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama
The Federal Government has faulted reports that Nigeria was represented at the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
The government denied the claims in a statement from the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The U.S had moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday during a ceremony described as “a great day for Israel” by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, however, noted that neither the Ambassador to Israel nor any staff member represented the country at the event.
“We would like to reassure the general public that the official position of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not changed,” the statement read.
Jerusalem has been in the eye of the storm following the President Trump’s pronouncement in December 2017 that sparked global criticism from world leaders.
The opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem two days ago had also triggered protest by some individuals, leading to the death of several.