Doncaster woman caught up in emergency evacuation from west African country

A Doncaster holidaymaker has described the panic and confusion of being evacuated from a country in west Africa due to growing political unrest.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th January 2017, 7:02 pm
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 11:07 am

Pensioner Sue Thrower is one of thousands of British holidaymakers who were flown home at short notice from The Gambia due to potential military intervention following presidential elections on December 1.

The Doncaster woman said today she had only learned of the evacuation through another woman who was talking to her mum back home.

She added: "If it hadn't have been for that young woman of 28 with her smartphone talking to her mum back home, we wouldn't have known we had to pack after breakfast this morning and be ready."

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is warning against "all non-essential travel" to the west African nation.

There are fears the main international airport could be shut at short notice and holiday company Thomas Cook has laid on additional flights from the capital Banjul to bring 985 package trip customers home..

The holiday firm sent a flight from Manchester without passengers to the country, which then brought back the first group of tourists. A further four flights have been arranged from Banjul back to the UK - two flying to Manchester and two to Gatwick.

An additional 2,500 "flight-only" customers will then be contacted and offered the earliest possible flights back to the UK.

The action comes after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency after refusing to hand power to opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won last month's election.

Mr Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, initially acknowledged Mr Barrow as the winner but later said the ballot count was flawed and lodged a complaint with the country's supreme court.

State television said the state of emergency would prevent a power vacuum while the court rules on Mr Jammeh's petition challenging the election result.

Regional leaders have threatened to intervene with military force if Mr Jammeh does not step down by a deadline later this week.

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