Boys' Brigade's African visitors denied visas

Youth charity's global celebrations marred as Home Office refuses to allow delegates entry

A youth group championed by the Queen is battling the UK Border Agency after almost every African delegate for a special conference of Boys' Brigade young leaders was refused entry to the country.

Of 120 young people invited from around the world to attend a youth leadership meeting to mark 50 years of international co-operation (though the Brigade's own history goes back to 1883), 49 have had their visa applications turned down. All are from Africa. Most of the visitors were fully funded by the charity and many had significant leadership roles, including a Girls' Brigade president from Rwanda and the national secretary of Boys' Brigade Kenya.

Organisers of the event, the Global Fellowship – a coalition of Christian youth groups which evolved from the Boys' Brigade – said the refusal to issue visas could result in it being cancelled.

Lord Griffiths, the Boys' Brigade president, said: "This is the oldest youth movement in the UK and the Queen is the patron, so we don't know what else can be done to persuade people who act on the assumption that anyone coming here is an economic migrant.

"It will be too late to make this conference the success we want it to be now. Forming a fellowship around the world – that's the ideal that's being threatened. If we can't pull together 100 people for a week on our anniversary, perhaps we have to say let's abandon the idea altogether."

All the delegates have sponsors, who vouch for them and provide accommodation and food, but the UK Border Agency has written to say the delegates do not have sufficient evidence of income to get a temporary visa. Delegates from Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Gambia all had their visa applications rejected.

Matthew Smith, the brigade's chairman-designate, said: "The young people we invited were chosen by their leadership team on the basis of their ability to contribute to the development of the movement in their own community on their return. We limited each country to three young people so they had to be selective. The whole point is to equip local leaders in their own communities."

He added: "I had hoped our thanksgiving service on Sunday 11 August would focus on the move from 1963 to 2013 as a story of increasing interaction. In fact, the story looks more like one of virtual interaction as physical meeting becomes harder than when it was required by boat!"

Paul Kabanda, a prominent youth leader in Uganda, is one of the young people denied entry. He told the charity: "I am disappointed by the way [UKBA] has assumed we participants don't have an intention to leave the UK following our visit.

"Such assumptions are inhuman and undermine our integrity as people who have a country of origin."

Mr Smith said: "We had high hopes of Paul becoming a new trustee. Now he will not be eligible for election in absentia. This will skew the balance in our council meeting and the make-up of our elected trustees."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "I suspect the Queen would say it's a Home Office issue."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Each case is judged on its own merits. We don't comment on individual cases."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks