Here’s Why the Travel Ban Now Includes Chad
For years, the African nation has been instrumental in regional counterterrorism.
When the Trump administration released a third version of the much-contested “travel ban” last month, the addition of Chad to the list of banned countries puzzled many observers.
The Central African country, a longtime ally of the United States, has also been considered an important regional counterterrorism partner, aiding in efforts against the Boko Haram insurgency.
In Trump’s third version of the ban, announced on Sept. 24, Chad was added to a list of countries including Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, North Korea, Somalia, and Venezuela, from which travelers are now banned from entering the US.
The executive order was blocked by a federal judge this week. Global Citizen advocates against the travel bans, which block immigrants and refugees from entering the US.
But now, the reason for Chad’s inclusion on the list has been revealed — and it’s rather, well, bureaucratic.
According to officials in the Department of Homeland Security, Chad ran out of official passport paper during the vetting process, and so was added to the list, CBS News reported.
As part of its security review of traveler vetting procedures, the Trump administration had given countries 50 days to provide a sample of its passport to the Homeland Security Department for analysis.
Lacking the special paper, Chad offered to provide a pre-existing sample of the same type of passport, several US officials told CBS. And yet, it wasn’t enough to persuade Homeland Security to make an exception to the requirement.
The restrictions placed on Chad “dealt with more than just the receipt of a passport exemplar,” Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said. The agency also announced it’s “eager to see Chad develop more secure travel documents and make other enhancements.”
Still, for the African nation, news that business and tourist visas for Chadians would be suspended came as a surprise.
“This move contrasts with Chad’s constant efforts and commitment in the fight against terrorism at the regional and global level,” the country’s communication minister said, according to NPR.
The minister added that Chad “calls for a better appreciation and understanding of the situation and invites President Trump to reconsider his decision.”
Some suggest that Chad’s recent decision to withdraw hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger might have been a response to the travel restrictions.
“With the withdrawal of Chadian troops, Boko Haram attacks in Niger’s Diffa region have increased, as has general banditry,” the Council on Foreign Relations noted.
Since 2009, the terrorist group has committed war crimes on a huge scale, according to Amnesty International. In particular, Boko Haram’s use of female suicide bombers has skyrocketed, killing hundreds.
For years, Chadian troops, a 4,000-strong counter-terrorism force, have been tasked with fighting jihadis in the region.
Even the Pentagon and the French government, the country’s former colonizer, have expressed their confusion about the administration’s announcement.
“France hopes that with this in mind the United States and Chad...will find a quick solution that will enable this ban to be lifted,” a French foreign ministry spokeswoman said.