BERLIN — The acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alleged that he was “mistreated” upon arrival at Germany’s Frankfurt airport on Saturday and decided to return to Africa.
Ahmed Ogwell, who was on his way to attend the opening of the World Health Summit in Berlin on Sunday, said in a tweet that his attendance at the event was in doubt after a run-in with “immigration staff who imagine I want to stay illegally “.
“I am happier and safer back home in Africa. They invite you over and then they manhandle you,” Ogwell wrote. “It is time to move away from unfriendly territories for me. … Very irritated. I’ve finished!”
In an update later that day, he said: “I have decided to return to my beautiful continent.”
However, World Health Summit chairman Axel Fries said Ogwell had arrived at the conference hotel and “therefore can fully contribute” to the summit.
Ogwell did not elaborate on his alleged mistreatment. Germany’s federal police, which is in charge of passport controls at the country’s airports, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An email to the Africa CDC also went unanswered.
Ogwell’s tweets prompted a query and an apology from the Frankfurt Airport Twitter account.
“As an international airport, we welcome all passengers and do not tolerate any form of discrimination or racism. We would like to have more information about this incident,” he said.
Ogwell’s tweets were liked and retweeted by thousands of Twitter users, including World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Tedros responded directly to Ogwell that “it is absolutely critical that all World Health Summit participants from Africa and all other countries are treated with respect.”