News / Africa

Africa-bound Passengers Stranded at Brussels Airport

Some of the stranded passengers at Brussels International AirportSome of the stranded passengers at Brussels International Airport
x
Some of the stranded passengers at Brussels International Airport
Some of the stranded passengers at Brussels International Airport
James Blears
More than 140 passengers from five African countries have been stranded at Brussels International Airport since early Thursday.

They were to have departed late Tuesday from Chicago aboard a United Airlines plane with a planned three-hour stop in Brussels. 

But, their Chicago flight was delayed and they missed their connecting flight on Brussels Airlines.  The carrier told them the next available flight is Friday. 

United told VOA “some passengers did miss their connections on other airlines to their final destinations, and our team in Brussels is doing everything it can to help the passengers make alternate accommodations as soon as possible.”

Daniel Dogba, a Liberian who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and one of the stranded passengers, said all 142 Africans have been staying in a cold basement of the airport for hours without food and water.

“We departed the United States from Chicago, via United Flight 972, with the intention of transiting in Brussels.  Now, we got here today (Thursday) and the airport here did not know we were coming or what was going on.  Mind you, there has been no official statement from United as to when we’re departing here.  We’ve been here over 11 hours, no food, no water, and in the very cold basement,” he said.

Dogba said without visas the passengers could not leave the basement to seek hotel accommodations on their own.  He also said airlines officials were in possession of their passports.

Glory Tambe, a Cameroonian, said she and her baby became sick from the conditions in the airport basement.

“I had a migraine and my neck and feet were hurting because we’ve been standing, and we didn’t have a place to sit down.  We didn’t have no food to eat, no water and the baby was crying.  I tried to buy something for her to eat, but she couldn’t even eat it because it was so hot, and she had wounds all over her mouth because we don’t have water,” Tambe said.

Another woman from Sierra Leone who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said she was returning to Sierra Leone with her four year-old son for the first time in 12 years because her father passed away.

She said her son became sick because the lack of food and water, coupled with cold weather, became stressful for her son.

“I feel that they are treating us like refugees. I feel that this is racist.  I feel that they think we don’t know anything, and I’m a young generation and I know my rights, and I want to fight this to the end.  I feel they are treating us [like this] because we are Africans, and this is wrong.  We paid them money and we should receive what we [paid for],” she said.

She said the conditions reminded her of the days of Sierra Leone’s civil war when there was no regard for human beings.

Dogba said one of the sad things to see was an elderly woman who was traveling in a wheelchair.
Butty interview with Dogba
Butty interview with Dogbai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
December 28, 2013 3:03 AM
Just wanted to underline how we, the black people, are treated when we found ourselves stranded at any given European airports. Missing or delaying connecting flights do happen and it’s normal but passengers should be treated accordingly by the airport authority and airline agency. If we reasonably complain about the mistreatment we are unfairly accused of playing so called “racism card”.
According to this article, 142 African passengers coming from USA were supposed to have only 3 hours transit at Brussels’s, no need to have transit visa, right?. Again at their no fault they missed their connecting flights and they have to wait for another 36 or more hours for their next connections. Then all black passengers were herded into cold basement (call it Terminal B) where there is no water or food. Of course the passengers complain are reasonable. No one is playing here Racism Card!
It’s Christmas! European should be very compassionate for people in need at their soil. Please do not blame us playing the blame game!
Happy New Year to you all.

by: Derek from: Canada
December 27, 2013 6:28 PM
In my personal opinion citizens these passengers requiring a transit airport schengen visa ( type A visa) and did not have at the time of boardnig a flight, should have never been allowed to board the united flight bound for Brussels in the first place.
I don't get it why these passengers did not use american passport as for transiting Brussels and schengen area?
the whole scenario would of have been avoided altogether.!!
there is no question about it United airlines personnel grossly mishandled the whole press about boarding these passenger without necessary type A visa from chicago bound for Brussels.

by: Steven from: Belgium
December 27, 2013 3:45 AM
People seem to be very eager to play the racism card, but once again, the events didn't go entirely as portrayed in the article. The passengers were not in the basement, but in the terminal B transit area. A group of them choose to remain seated at the border control, where there are indeed limited seats available. They were however free to go to other areas in the transit area, where there are benches and sofas available as well as restaurants and cafes but choose not to do so. This was their choice, not something that was imposed on them. Meanwhile, immigration services were doing their best to get visas issued to everybody but as they needed to send a demand for every passenger separately to the government office, this obviously took some time.
Furthermore, I have spent many hours waiting in transit at various airports all over the world, as my flight was delayed or I missed a connection and didn't have the visa. I'm European, not African, yet, just like everybody else, wasn't allowed in because I didn't have a visa. This has nothing to do with racism. It's quite sad to play this card and a form of self victimisation which needs to stop.
And eventually everybody did get a visa and could spend the night in a hotel.

by: al from: Nai
December 26, 2013 8:17 PM
Sorry guys. The Airline couldn't even provide hotels for the stranded passengers? I hate travelling through Europe. They treat especially us africans like animals. Brussels Airport is now on my list of Airports to Avoid. My list included Zurich. I slept there for many hours, and was pulled aside by Security both to, and from. And by the way i was only transiting to go to see my folks in Africa. Getting pulled aside by Security when the mistake isn't yours (Swiss Embassy gave me thew wrong transit Visa) I have no idea what kind of Schengen transit Visa i needed, so you would think the Embassy would give me the right one after i had explained the situation to them.
I just want to travel so long as im not breaking any rules without being bothered, or mistreated.(Just treat me like any other passenger)

by: Mohamad from: Minneapolis, MN
December 26, 2013 5:52 PM
This actually makes to think twice before purchasing my ticket. I was thinking about purchasing a ticket to Nairobi that goes through Brussels airport. I guess i know why this airfare is cheaper than the others

by: Floe from: Canada
December 26, 2013 3:26 PM
If those Airlines cannot treat people accordingly, then they have to close down. The delay is their fault. They have to help their passengers obtain transit visas. I am sure they can pay for their accommodation and live decently.
Even if you give people vouchers, you do not abandon them in Basements for God sake. Where are the Airport authorities?

by: Average traveller from: DC
December 26, 2013 2:38 PM
Too easy to play the race card.

Misconnections happen due to weather or any other number of reasons. If you travel to Africa with a connection and your airline does NOT run the connection daily (typical for a number of destinations in Africa and even many destinations in Europe), then you should be prepared to misconnect and if you do, and you did not obtain a visa, you will be stuck in the international terminal until your airline's next scheduled flight.

FYI, the terminal has many many options for hot food, and United Airlines gave free vouchers to these passengers. What else do these traveler's expect, to be let into a country for which they did not obtain a visa? Ignorance of the situation that they put themselves in does not equal racism, and shame on those people who jump to play the race card.

by: Floe from: Canada
December 26, 2013 2:08 PM
This is so inhuman to treat people like animals; At Christmas time... I hope that the Human Rights watch will intervene and these airlines will pay for all the damages; Be it Physical, psychological...you name it..

by: Steven from: Belgium
December 26, 2013 4:24 AM
As someone who works at the airport and witnessed the events unfold, I can say there's some gross exaggeration from the passengers. They were not kept in a basement but were in the transit area of the B terminal, meaning they had access to all the f&b outlets available in the terminal. Also, united staff handed out vouchers to the pax so they could purchase food and drinks.
In my opinion United shouldn't have brought the passengers all the way to Brussels knowing very well they would miss their connecting flight and leaving them stranded, without the necessary schengen visa, in Belgium.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
December 26, 2013 2:30 AM
We know all too well what kind of treatment black people expect when they stranded at any European airports and lost their connecting flights. It's norm NOW!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs