We were so looking forward to welcoming Palestinian Fairtrade producers Bassema Barahmeh and Lamis Zamzam on their first visit to the UK this week for a packed schedule of talks, trainings and presentations.
The events had been organised under a SUSY-
funded project highlighting the social and solidarity economy, in partnership with Think Global
, Waterford One World Centre
and the Cooperative College
However, at the last minute their visas have been denied on the grounds of their insufficient personal income and lack of family dependents to prove sufficient ‘ties to their home country’.
Despite having launched their application process before Christmas, and the decision having been made on 18th
January, Bassema and Lamis were told they could not be informed of the final decision until 22 February, just two days before they were due to leave on their journey. This left them with no time to submit additional paperwork in support of their claim, and means they are unable to get to talks, presentations and interviews around the UK and Ireland.
Visits to the UK are important in strengthening the connection between customers and producers of Fairtrade Palestinian produce, and help overcome the sense of isolation felt by so many Palestinian communities under occupation.
In the spirit of solidarity, we are asking our customers and supporters to reach out and send messages of support to Lamis and Bassema, tagging your messages #NoVisaNoTrade and mentioning @Zaytoun_CIC.
In our upcoming newsletter and on social media, we will be asking you to lobby your MPs as part of a campaign to act on promises to open up Britain for trade with the rest of the world. Without visas to travel, trade is affected and British business suffers. Zaytoun is an award-winning UK social enterprise whose customers and suppliers value the personal connection they have with each other, and these relationships are doubly important for rural communities under occupation in Palestine.
All events will now be covered by the Zaytoun team including Zaytoun's Palestinian director Taysir Arbasi.