Zaytoun's Press Release: Fairtrade Farmers in UK visa ban Feb 24. 2010 | Comments (0)
Fairtrade Farmers in UK visa ban
Fairtrade supporters have reacted angrily to a decision to deny three Palestinian olive farmers access to the UK preventing them from attending this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight.
The ban on the goodwill ambassadors, who were to be guests of the UK-based social enterprise Zaytoun, comes exactly one year after the farmers became the first olive oil producers in the world to be awarded Fairtrade status.
Now thousands of schoolchildren, ethical shoppers and Fairtrade supporters will be denied the opportunity to meet the trio who were due to take part in a packed schedule of events and talks across the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight.
Cathi Pawson, Director of UK-based social enterprise Zaytoun CIC(1) said:
"We find it very strange that a Palestinian olive farmer, participating in a multi- million EC funded food security project, invited by a UK company, accompanied by a leading British NGO, and hosted by groups across the country, cannot get a visa for Fairtrade Fortnight - especially when Gordon Brown announced he was 'delighted' about the Fairtrade certification of Palestinian olive oil, and Tony Blair was 'inspired' by his recent visit to a Fairtrade olive processing factory in Jenin."
Pawson continues, “At a time when our government has a policy of supporting the development of the Palestinian economy, and Fairtrade olive oil is one of its few success stories to date, this refusal to grant visas is inexplicable, and displays a woeful lack of joined up thinking across departments."
Zaytoun, a British social enterprise which helps Palestinian farmers to find a market for their products in the UK, was due to take Lina Mahmoud, Belal Eid and Nahed Besharieh on a packed schedule of visits to UK Fairtrade and Palestine support groups during Fairtrade Fortnight which runs from 22nd February to 27th March.
British consumers have responded enthusiastically to the Palestinian products that are stocked by outlets across the country, including leading retailers.
But the UK Borders Agency refused to grant the three olive farmers UK visas allowing them to participate in radio interviews, schools talks, shop samplings, faith gatherings and official receptions on the grounds that the farmers had insufficient proof of income and family ties. The visa applications clearly stated that Zaytoun and their NGO partner were covering all expenses and arrangements.
“Zaytoun will be calling on supporters and customers to lobby MPs and the FCO(2) among others. Beyond wanting to get this decision overturned we want to make sure that DFID's and our work in encouraging investment in Palestine is fully supported by the FCO.” stated Pawson.
(1) CIC – Community Interest Company
(2) FCO – Foreign & Commonwealth Office
– ENDS –
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS WITH CATHI PAWSON PLEASE CONTACT:
KIM HAWKE ON 079 848 02435
ANNA CAREY ON 079 038 06979
MATT WOOD ON 01273 600 500
For images and a media pack visit http://neocreative.co.uk/z
1. Zaytoun CIC was established to support marginalized Palestinian farming communities. As a non-profit company our primary objectives lie with the welfare of the producing communities. We invest in empowering farming communities and developing the agricultural infrastructure in Palestine.
2. The world’s first Fairtrade olive oil to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark was launched by Zaytoun to coincide with the start of Fairtrade Fortnight 2009.
3. Zaytoun co-founder, Heather Masoud, is an award winning social entrepreneur voted winner of the Times Readers' Award for Women in Ethical Business in 2009.
About Fairtrade in the UK:
The Fairtrade Foundation has licensed over 3,000 Fairtrade certified products for sale through retail and catering outlets in the UK.
The UK market is doubling in value every 2 years, and in 2007 reached an estimated retail value of £493 million. The UK is one of the world’s leading Fairtrade markets, with more products and more awareness of Fairtrade than anywhere else. Around 20% of roast and ground coffee, and 20% of bananas sold in the UK are now Fairtrade.
TNS CAPI Omnibus findings showed that 70% of the UK population recognise the FAIRTRADE Mark. Findings also show understanding of the concept behind the Mark has increased, with 64% of the population linking the Mark to a better deal for producers in the developing world.
(The poll was undertaken by TNS via their CAPI omnibus. It was a nationally representative sample of 2082 GB adults aged 16+ was interviewed. Interviews were conducted face to face, in respondents home. The fieldwork was conducted 14–18 March 2008).