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African authors refused visas for UK festival

PICTURED: Edinburgh Book Festival

AUTHORS FROM Africa and the Middle East who planned to attend a book festival in Scotland this weekend, has had their visa applications denied, the event organisers say.

Edinburgh International Book Festival director Nick Barley told The Guardian that this ‘humiliating’ application process will deter writers and damage cultural life in UK,

“We’ve had to draw on the help of MPs, MSPs, ambassadors and senior people in the British Council and Home Office to overturn visa decisions that looked set to be rejected,” Barley said. “We’ve had so many problems with visas, we’ve realised it is systematic.

"This is so serious. We want to talk about it and resolve it, not just for [this festival], but for cultural organisations UK-wide. The amount of energy, money and time that has gone into this is problematic. There needs to be a fix.”

The festival organisers haven't named the authors in question.

According to The Guardian, a permit-free festival visitor visa is available to artists appearing at 45 approved cultural events, including Womad and the Edinburgh Fringe, which means they do not require a certificate of sponsorship and only have to show bank balances for three months. However, Edinburgh Book Festival is not on the list.

It follows similar complications at last month's Womad festival, where at least three African musical acts on the bill were unable to perform due to visa complications with British immigration.

Peter Gabriel, the Womad festival founder, cruised the UK foreign policy last week saying: “Do we really want a white-breaded Brexited flatland? A country that is losing the will to welcome the world?”

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