Nigerians protest canceled invitations

August 5, 2014
Duksung Women's University in Seoul is caught in controversy. (Yonhap)

Duksung Women’s University in Seoul is caught in a controversy. (Yonhap)

By Jung Min-ho

Three Nigerian students who were denied the chance to participate in a conference at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul ― a decision based on Ebola fears ― will take the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, a university representative said Tuesday.

The university withdrew the students’ invitations to the World Congress of Global Partnership for Young Women, which it is hosting in conjunction with the United Nations.

“They repeatedly complained about the school’s decision,” a university spokeswoman told The Korea Times. “They said they would appeal to the United Nations.”

Three hundred college students from 32 countries, including 28 students from nine African nations, attended the conference’s opening ceremony Monday at the Lotte Hotel.

Some of the students at the conference expressed displeasure over what they saw as undue attention over the disease. A high-ranking official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare shared their displeasure.

“Many people’s concerns about the disease may be overkill and disrespectful to the international community,” the official said. “We have ensured the disease stayed out of the country.”

Korean companies operate in many African countries, the official pointed out, saying the negative publicity could hurt their business.

In a statement, Duksung Women’s University said it hoped the Ebola controversy would not tarnish the spirit of the conference.

“We have tried our best to ensure safety through strict adherence to government guidelines,” the statement said. “We made sure there were no students from the region where Ebola cases had been confirmed.”