Gambia’s immigration department says it will issue passports to those traveling on medical and religious grounds after a directive was approved by the homeland security minister.
The West African nation halted the issuing of passports as part of an investigation to allegations that the former government issued Gambian travel documents and identification cards to non-citizens.
Gambia is a majority Muslim nation and some few hundred of its citizens are planning to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to perform the fifth pillar of Islam – the Hajj.
At least a dozen citizens are also in need of urgent medical attention and emergency surgeries, which cannot be performed in the impoverished state.
Those traveling on medical or religious grounds will have to personally appear before a panel with their prove of citizenship and airline itenary to be approved.
Homeland Security Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty said there is an urgent need to protect the integrity of Gambian documents.
Gambians had a visa free entry to Hong Kong until the authorities in the autonomous city alleged that Gambian permanent residency and passports were issued to mainland China citizens who paid thousands of dollars for them.