7.30pm LATEST: Anxious wait over night for Norfolk charity workers trying to leave The Gambia

Janet Clark and Jane Moore in The Gambia on a previous trip

Janet Clark and Jane Moore in The Gambia on a previous trip - Credit: Janet Clark

Two Norfolk charity workers will have to wait until tomorrow for a flight home from The Gambia as the country is plunged into political unrest.

Janet and Les Clark from Mattishall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Janet and Les Clark from Mattishall. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Janet Clark from Mattishall and Jane Moore from Taverham had gone to The Gambia on their annual visit to some of the poorest communities they support with the charity Gambian Aid Through Education, set up by Mrs Clark more than a decade ago.

But within 24 hours of arriving at the Badala Park hotel near Banjul they were told the Foreign Office had advised against all but essential travel to the West African nation.

The current president, Yahya Jammeh, is refusing to stand down and has declared a state of emergency a day before he was due to hand over power to Adama Barrow, who won last month's election.

Mrs Clark's husband Les, who stayed at home in Mattishall, said he was very concerned about them but just a few moments ago they were told to get on a specially laid on coach to be taken to the airport.

Janet Clark, has raised thousands of pounds for people in Gambia. Pictured: Janet Clark, of Mattisha

Janet Clark, has raised thousands of pounds for people in Gambia. Pictured: Janet Clark, of Mattishall, with a little girl in Gambia who has been named after her. - Credit: Submitted


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'They have been told they will be put on a plane home, but as they hadn't booked a package holiday no doubt they will be at the back of the queue,' he said.

'They had seen some Nigerian ships in the harbour. It is a situation we have never been in before.'

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But now their son Andy has updated his mother's Facebook page with the news that they were being sent to a hotel near the airport.

'My mum has been told she should be on a flight tomorrow,' he wrote. 'It does worry me with the threats of troops going over the border into The Gambia at midnight.

Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. Gambia's rul

Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. Gambia's ruler of more than 22 years now says he won't accept defeat in the presidential election, reversing course a week after he conceded defeat. In a speech on state television aired late Friday, Dec. 9, 2016,, President Yahya Jammeh said that investigations had revealed voting irregularities that he called unacceptable. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) - Credit: AP

Mrs Clark had checked government policy on travel to The Gambia the night before they left and no concerns had been raised.

She and Mrs Moore were planning to head into the remote villages on Friday but had made arrangements for all the gifts they had taken with them to be passed on to the rural communities.

'They had taken lots of things including football shirts from Dereham Town Football Club,' said Mr Clark. 'There were also lots of books and seeds and a laptop for the new headmistress. They had managed to buy some crafts to bring home which they will sell to raise money for the charity.'

The Gambian parliament has reportedly extended President Jammeh's term by 90 days.

But the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated it may intervene, and has threatened military action, if he does not step down.

The Foreign Office said: 'The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice.'

Travel agent Thomas Cook said it was trying to contact all those who booked flights with them to offer them 'the earliest possible flight availability for return to the UK.'

Mrs Moore posted on social media on Tuesday night that they were not in any danger.

She wrote: 'Please pray for peace in the Gambia. We arrived safely in the Gambia and we are ok and not in any danger, but the president has declared a state of emergency from midnight tonight and anyone on the street will be arrested. It's his last day in power tomorrow and he still isn't going.'

* To find out how you can support Gambian Aid Through Education visit the website www.helpthegambia.co.nr.

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