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Foreign Ministry urges airlines to verify their departure processes for African citizens in transit zones in Colombia

Foto: Cancillería

Foreign Relations deputy minister, Francisco Coy, stated that African travelers are waiting for connecting flights to El Salvador.

Bogota, Colombia, December 21st, 2023

African nationals at Bogota’s El Dorado airport in the international transit zone are waiting for connecting flights to El Salvador. The airlines are tasked with ensuring that each passenger fulfills the necessary immigration requirements.

During a press conference, Foreign Relations deputy minister, Francisco Coy, highlighted that the transit zone permits a stay only up to 24 hours, but some have waited for up to 48 hours or more for their final destination flights.

He argued “the lack of adherence by airlines to national regulations on immigration matters”.

“It is necessary to begin exhaustive work with them to guarantee compliance with the regulations concerning the issue”, he emphasized.

Migration Colombia, as the immigration control authority in the country, is carrying out “verification processes for all passengers who are in the transit zone”, due to the registered situation in El Dorado.

Verification process includes authenticity and legalization of travel documents, such as passports, visas and other requirements.

“Those who present inconsistencies or false documents are subject to sanctions. They are sent back to the airlines, and it is their responsibility to guarantee their safe return to the countries of origin”, the deputy minister said.

Less than 10% of the passengers waiting for their connection flights, mainly to El Salvador, have been found to not meet the immigration requirements, he stated.

“We have witnessed there is a permanent flexibility in the application of rules and overbooking situations by airlines”, Coy warned.

Asked about the situation of unaccompanied children and adolescents, the officer explained that authorities such as Migración Colombia, ICBF (Colombian Institute of Family Welfare), and Aeronautica Civil, established a care protocol, with the collaboration of the airlines, to identify people who travel without their adult companions.

“Airlines are the first filter for travelers, and we are talking with them as well as national and international aeronautical authorities to reinforce controls and avoid return of passengers who do not comply with the measures established by the Colombian Government”, he said.

According to Resolution 3717 of 2023, Colombia requires visas from 27 nationalities to transit through Colombia's international airports, destined for a third State, including 14 African nationalities: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

“The data indicate that this is a group of nationalities that historically does not register a large volume of entry applications and, therefore, the issuance of this type of visa”, he said.

(With information from the Foreign Relations Ministry)