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Monday, December 03, 2007

How to close a country for a week

And this morning I returned from Mali aboard a standing room-only Air France flight to Paris.
Being landlocked, Mali relies on airlines to supply its lines of communication with the outside world. Therefore when, a week before we arrived, the Minister of Transport decided that Bamako must resurface its only runway the news came as a bit of a shock to Air France, who run the only daily inter-continental flight out of there.
This move, which amounted to taking an entire country and hanging a sign on it saying "Closed for repairs", was made with just a couple of days notice and left hundreds of Malians stranded thousands of miles away from home with all the attendant expense, emotional wear and tear and visa difficulties.
It passed without any comment from the world's press.