Published today (updated) 17/05/2010 19:11
Bethlehem – Ma’an – A Palestinian student from Gaza was barred from traveling on Monday to an international conference in the Czech Republic due to the ongoing closure of the coastal enclave’s borders.
Rifat Abd Elaal, an engineering student at the Islamic University in Gaza, was due to attend the International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, sponsored by the Czech government, the EU, the UN, and Price Waterhouse Cooper.
Speaking with Ma’an, Abd Elaal said he had attempted all avenues available to him to procure a visa, which can be obtained at the Czech Consulate in Ramallah, Tel Aviv or Cairo. However, due to the ongoing siege imposed by Israel, he was unable to travel to any of them.
The Czech Consulate proposed that he apply via email to request a visa without going through the formal interview process, given the restriction of movement faced by him and the population of Gaza, but he said he has yet to receive a response.
Despite the difficulties in obtaining a visa, Abd Elaal is instant on attending the conference and has asked the International Youth Leadership Conference to allow him to attend when it next convenes in July.