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Tourists flown out of Gambia due to 'state of emergency'

19 January 2017 08:57

The Foreign Office warns against travelling to Gambia at present

The Foreign Office warns against travelling to Gambia at present

Nearly 1,000 people have had their holidays in Gambia cut short amid growing political unrest in the African state.

Thomas Cook triggered its contingency plan amid a 90-day state of emergency being declared in the country, following a political deadlock that has prompted a "high" risk of military intervention, according to official warnings.

Yahya Jammeh, president of Gambia for 22 years, has refused to hand over power after being voted out in an election in early December.

On Tuesday, Mr Jammeh urged security forces to maintain order, while banning "any acts of disobedience".

A group of nations in the west African region - the Economic Community of West African States - is threatening to intervene and take military action if the incumbent leader fails to step down this week and allow president-elect Adama Barrow to take his position.

Trusted travel insurance may offer added peace of mind for holidays that are cancelled or cut short by companies because of civil disturbance.

Foreign Office issues warning

The Foreign Office is urging Britons to avoid all non-essential travel to mainland Africa's smallest country.

A spokesman said: "The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice."

At least five Thomas Cook flights are scheduled to bring back 985 package holiday customers, the travel operator has said.

"In addition, we have approximately 2,500 flight-only customers in Gambia, whom we are contacting to offer the earliest possible flight availability for return to the UK," a spokesman for Thomas Cook has said.

Travellers urged to 'be vigilant'

Gambia is a popular winter sun destination, favoured for its affordability, white beaches and year-round warm climate, and attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year.

Abta, the association of travel agents and tour operators, is urging anyone with a trip booked to Gambia to contact their travel company to discuss their options.

The Foreign Office spokesman added: "You should follow events closely, take extra care, keep in regular contact with your tour operator and airline and continue to monitor travel advice and social media updates in case tensions rise as the current political deadlock continues."