The Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria (DSFN) has condemned the decision of the South African High Commission in Nigeria to deny entry visa to seven of the foundation’s delegates for the World Down Syndrome Congress 2012, in Cape Town, South Africa.
The delegates led by the National President of DSFN were to attend the 11th World Down Syndrome Congress in Cape Town, from 14th-18th August 2012.
DSFN made this known at a press conference in Lagos to reveal that the foundation’s delegates which comprised of parents, children and adults with Down syndrome, who were denied the entry visa for allegedly presenting “invalid fake Yellow Cards” during their visa application.
According to the National president of the foundation, Mrs. Rose Mordi, the move by the Department of Home Affairs in the Commission is “vindictive, callous and seen by the foundation as a well thought out act of stigmatization, discrimination against people with Down Syndrome and their careers.”
“This is not only an insult to our foundation but also to the Federal Government of Nigeria” the foundation stated.
Regretting the denial, the foundation noted that “what made the congress special to the foundation was that the foundation is the only African organization to be presented an international award in recognition for taking care of people with Down Syndrome by the Down Syndrome International (DSi) which was to be presented at the congress.”
The National President was also billed to give an address alongside the President of the South Africa Down Syndrome during the event that has all Down Syndrome organizations from all over the world in attendance.
The foundation noted that despite submitting its visa application on time and making all necessary arrangements such as hotel accommodation, congress registration and so on in preparation for the trip, the South African High Commission still denied them the visa.
It noted that the move is “not only suspicious and totally unacceptable but smacks of arrogant disregard for charity organizations working hard to make a difference in the lives of people living with challenges, and an insult to our Government.”
“With their action, the South African High Commission has denied people with Down Syndrome from Nigeria an opportunity to interact with their counterparts all over the world in an event that is happening on an African soil which is a BIG shame to the officials that took this heart breaking decision considering the appeal President Jacob Zuma made to South Africans concerning people with Down Syndrome in his March 21st address to the nation in 2011.”
Defending the source of the yellow cards submitted, the foundation stated that “the yellow cards submitted by the delegates as a prerequisite requirement were obtained from the Local government councils that have the constitutional right to issue such vaccinations and all the delegates have been vaccinated as many of them have traveled outside Nigeria with the Yellow cards and were not subjected to stigmatisations as was shown by the South African High Commission.”
The DSFN has therefore called on the South African High Commission to “specify on how the Yellow Cards were invalid as all the certificates still has dates of vaccination and other information are valid.”
The foundation affirmed that, despite the discouraging impact of this move by the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria, it will “not be shaken”, adding that “we will not remove our focus from taking care of people with Down Syndrome in our country and the world over.”