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World

People planning to attend AIDS conference in Montreal still struggling to get visas

MONTREAL — International AIDS organizations say people from Africa, South America and Asia who are planning to attend a major conference in Montreal are still struggling to get visas.

Last week, almost 250 organizations from around the world sent a joint letter to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser calling on him to take action to ensure participants can attend the International AIDS conference.

Tinashe Rufurwadzo with Y+ Global, an international organization of HIV+ youth, says the chair of his organization’s board and another of its employees have been denied visas to attend the conference.

Rufurwadzo says young people from the African continent need to be able to meaningfully participate in the conference, not just be represented in pictures in PowerPoint presentations. 

Tumie Komanyane, who runs a number of programs for international NGO Frontline AIDS in South Africa, says groups she works with were planning to help more than a dozen young people attend the conference, but decided not to even bother applying for 10 visas after the first four applications were rejected. 

Conference organizers have previously described visa delays and denials as a potential disaster for the event. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2022.

The Canadian Press