Several Gambian students have been refused visas to the US to take part in an international robotics competition without being given any reasons, reports Al Jazeera.
The Doha-based broadcaster quotes the director of The Gambia’s ministry of higher education, Moktar Darboe, as saying the students had to pay $170 (£131) each for the visa application.
“Their parents had to sacrifice a lot to pay this fee,” he said.
An al Jazeera producer tweets that the team will send their robot to the US competition:
The First Global Challenge, which begins on 16 July, is asking students to come up with robotics solutions to finding clean water.
A group of Afghan students have also been refused visas.
Joe Sestak, the president of FIRST Global told the US newspaper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that they knew the chances of the students getting vias were slim.
“These nations [Afghanistan and Gambia] have some of the highest refusal rates. Gambia is 70%,” he is quoted as saying.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds that the State Department does not comment on visa denials.
It says that these are the only two nations that have been refused out of more than 160.
The organiser’s tweets show people are planning to attend from all over the world, including unstable countries like Libya: