The president of Senegal said that the country lacked the means to evacuate its citizen trapped in quarantined cities in China despite the plea of families who worry about the plight of their relatives.
Thirteen Senegalese students are stuck in Wuhan, according to their families. Although none of them are infected, the biggest worry is the lack of food supplies as students staying in dormitories has been advised to ration what they have.
Senegal’s President Macky Sall said on Monday that the poor West African country could not match “big countries” in organising emergency evacuations from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Chinese authorities have cordoned off the city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 560 people and infected over 28,000 more in China.
“Our children demand a minimum, their right to be rescued by their motherland,” said Yoro Ba, representing a group of families with relatives stranded in Wuhan, at a news conference in Senegal’s capital Dakar on Wednesday.
Occasionally breaking into tears, he pointed out that states such as Algeria and Tunisia were organising evacuations for their citizens and that Senegal had the resources to do so too.
The families were “distraught, heartbroken and bitter” at Sall’s statement on Monday, Ba said, adding that the students were nonetheless in good health so far.
He claimed, however, that not evacuating them meant “certain death”.
On Monday, Sall said Senegal lacked the sophisticated medical infrastructure to evacuate stranded Senegalese, pointing to the charter flights, specialised medical personnel and quarantine facilities that would be required.
Despite a growing economy, Senegal is a poor country where about 40% of the population live on less than $1.90 (€1.70) a day, according to the World Bank.
However, Sall’s announcement provoked outrage on Twitter. One prominent Senegalese columnist, for example, asked what the president would do if his own son was stranded in Wuhan.
There has not yet been a confirmed coronavirus case in Africa. But authorities are on high alert as deep trade links to China put many countries on the continent at risk. (Source: France24)