COVID-19: U.S. Warns Citizens in Ethiopia of Xenophobic Attacks

Image courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 18th, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is warning American citizens about growing incidents of xenophobic attacks fueled by news of coronavirus spread.

According to media reports so far the majority of reported COVID-19 patients in Africa have been foreign nationals including a British diplomat and Japanese citizens in Ethiopia. “Nearly all the continent’s confirmed cases have come from travelers from European or east Asian countries,” notes the online news publication, The Intercept. “Though that looks likely to change soon as cases rise rapidly across the continent and community transmission becomes more likely.”

“The Embassy continues to receive reports regarding a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment revolving around the announcement of COVID-19 in Ethiopia,” the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa said in a press release. “Typical derogatory comments directed at foreigners, the terms “China” and “Ferengi” (foreigner), have been reportedly coupled with the label “Corona,” indicating a disparaging view on the link between the outbreak of COVID-19 and foreigners in Ethiopia.”

The press release added: “Incidents of harassment and assault directly related to COVID-19 have been reported by other foreigners living within Addis Ababa and other cities throughout the country. Reports indicate that foreigners have been attacked with stones, denied transportation services (taxis, Ride, etc.), being spat on, chased on foot, and been accused of being infected with COVID-19.”

The Intercept report points out that several African countries “have moved swiftly to control arrivals from European countries. Ghana and Kenya announced new measures prohibiting travelers from countries affected by Covid-19, the first two African nations to put in place blanket travel bans. The Democratic Republic of Congo imposed quarantine measures on travelers from Italy, France, China and Germany. Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, and others have imposed similar quarantine measure for European travelers, while across the continent, passengers are screened for their temperature at international airports.”

Meanwhile in its latest security alert the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia shared with American citizens the following warning:

Avoid walking/hiking/biking alone. Do not walk throughout the city or residential areas, especially after dark. If yelled at or spat upon, do not engage or otherwise escalate the encounter. Do your best to immediately leave the situation/area. Maintain situational awareness. Avoid wearing headphones or using handheld electronic devices in public area. If you think you are being followed, do not go home. Go to the closet major establishment, hotel or police station. If you are in a vehicle, lock your doors and keep your window rolled up.


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