Tag Archives: COVID19

Namibia: no alcohol consumption in bars

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to President Hage Geingob announcement.
Subsequenly he imposed limits on public gatherings, deacreasing to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, the President announced.

People will also not be allowed to consume alcohol at bars and taverns. They will only be permitted to drink beverges at home.

Geingob relaxed rules for international tourists, who will no longer be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival but will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted 72 hours before arrival.

They will, however, be required to remain at their initial destination in the country for seven days. A test will be conducted during this period and tourists can proceed with their holiday if the result is negative.

In a televised speech on Friday July 31, Geingob said there is also a decision to suspend schools from August 4 for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

The measures also affect early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school, while Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week.

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob.

De Beers diamond mining to cut jobs

Diamond mining company De Beers is likely to have to cut jobs, its chief executive said on Thursday July 30, as it outlined strategy for an overhaul of its business after the coronavirus pandemic crisis hit demand for jewellery.

De Beers earlier reported plunging earnings in the first half of 2020 as a drop in rough diamond sales and prices hurt margins.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were just $2 million in the period, down from $518 million in the first half of last year.

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver told media official consultations with workers will begin on August 11. The business overhaul “is likely to lead to some job losses, but I can’t tell you at this point what that number will be”, he continued.

Cleaver said the process would last for three months and involve a review of the entire spectrum of activities from mining to rough sales, retail and the corporate centre, but exclude joint venture businesses in Botswana and Namibia where the miner employs 20,000 people.

#COVID19: Algeria exclused from EU safe travel list

The European Union is set to exclude Algeria from its safe list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel after a meeting of EU ambassadors on July 29, Reuters news agency reports, refering to the European diplomatic sources.

The list of countries will fall to 11, assuming the provisional decision is confirmed in writing by EU members, two EU diplomats familiar with the discussions said. The deadline for submissions was likely to be on July 30 afternoon.

The safe countries deemed to have COVID-19 largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors.

EU €24M aid to Uganda

The EU will provide €24 million in humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable people in Uganda in 2020, with a special focus on refugees and their host communities. In addition, the EU has also channelled €1 million to aid organisations in Uganda to support the coronavirus preparedness and control measures, in line with the national response plan to the pandemic.

“EU humanitarian support in Uganda is making a difference to the lives of many refugees who have fled South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. EU aid will provide food and health assistance, access to water and sanitation, as well as education programmes. We remain committed to continuing our support in Uganda, all the more so in these challenging times” said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

EU-funded humanitarian projects in Uganda are also adapting to the new challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, EU funded radio talk shows are raising awareness about the coronavirus and other key issues, such as child protection. Other humanitarian projects provide access to health care and in epidemics control and prevention. EU support has also helped more than 20,000 children benefit from education programmes.

EU humanitarian support in Uganda goes hand in hand with longer-term development strategies to find durable solutions and support the self-reliance of refugees and their inclusion in social protection schemes.

Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, one of the largest refugee populations in Africa. The country applies a progressive refugee policy, which is, however, under increasing pressure due to the scale of the crisis, and overstretched services. EU humanitarian funding is helping to address the immediate life-saving needs of refugees and host communities in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework as implemented in Uganda.

Burundi President-elect starts mandate

Burundi’s constitutional court has agreed that President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately following the sudden death of Pierre Nkurunziza, the government said in a statement posted to Twitter on June 12.

The Constitution provides for the speaker of parliament to take over in such a situation. The court ruled, however, that “the interim period is not necessary and that … Ndayishimiye must be sworn in as soon as possible”, the government said.

However there is the growing suspicion that the COVID-19 outbreak in Burundi will further disrupt public life. The social media persisting reports indicate that premature death of President Nkurunziza and his family members were caused by neglect of the coronavirus hazard.

Whatever happening in Burundi was quite predictable. Pierre Nkurunziza ignored WHO guidelines. He assumed that COVID-19 never existed, nobody in Bujumbura raised a voice! Pierre dead, his mother too; his wife & sister $ President-elect admitted [to hospital]…” independent journalist Abuga Makori writes.

EU looking forward to new history of Burundi

In relation with an official period of mourning for Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on 10 June, starting a day after the announcement of his death from a heart attack aged 55, the European diplomacy has expressed the condolences to the authorities and people of Burundi, and also expressed willingness to cooperate on new chapter in the history of the country on basis of reciprocity.

The European Union presents its condolences to the authorities and people of Burundi, and encourages all the political players preserve the peaceful climate and respect the legal and Constitutional framework in these circumstances, awaiting the investiture of the new President” the European External Action Service spokesperson said, commenting on the situation.

Furthermore the Hight Représentative [Josep Borrell] in his statement two days ago said the the elections and the peaceful transfer of power could open a new page in the history of Burundi, and the European Union is ready to contribute in this new chapter in the history of the country, alongside with our international and regional players, and based on reciprocity principle”, she underlined.

Wearing face masks and gloves to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, senior government officials, foreign diplomats and religious leaders lined up to sign a condolence book opened in his memory at the presidential palace.
Multiple diplomatic sources indicated the late President suffered difficulty to breeze, consistent with the coronavirus pneumonia symptoms when he was rushed to hospital in Karuzi. The officials frantically tried to transport him to Nairobi or Dar es-Salaam hospitals, however this condition deteriorated dramatically and efforts of Burundi medics to save Nkurunziza life failed.

Nkurunziza’s spouse, Denise Bucumi, has been absent. Air ambulance service AMREF had flown her to Nairobi on May 21 for medical treatment, but declined to confirm widespread reports in Kenyan media that this was am emergency treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia.

Late President Nkurunziza‘s 15 years in office had been marred throughout by allegations of massive human rights abuses and muzzling of the press, as well as the opression of critics and opposition.

His death, however, plays into his successor’s hands, according to Thierry Vircoulon, a Burundi expert at the International Crisis Group.

There was naturally a question after the election of what roll Pierre Nkurunziza would play — if he would be an obstacle for the new president or, on the other hand, if the men would reach an understanding,” Vircoulon told DW.

That’s a question and post-election scenario that is no longer needs to be asked. The new president of the old regime will have a completely free hand.”

Nkurunziza had been due to stand down in August, making way for retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye, who was declared as a winner of the election last month, the result that the opposition said was marred by violence and fraud.

However the Constitutional court last week rejected opposition complaint of the rigging charges.

Image: EEAS courtesy – Virginie Battu-Henriksson Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy

COVID19: Urpilainen announces €55M Kenya aid

“Team Europe stands by Kenya during Covid-19 with €55m package of support. €25m to ensure #SafeTrade at borders and to support #SMEs with affordable loans to stay afloat, €30M in budget support to #GoK to create space for priority public expenditure in response to pandemic” EU Commisisoner Jutta Urpilainen announced.

Kenyan relevant authorities announced 134 new positive cases on June 5, and 2,474 total confirmed cases, 51 new recoveries, 643 Total discharged and recovered, total 79 fatalities.

EU reinforces humanitarian aid

The European Commission proposes €14.8 billion for humanitarian aid, of which €5 billion come from the European Union Recovery Instrument to reinforce the humanitarian aid.

The increased budget reflects the growing humanitarian needs in the most vulnerable parts of the world. The Humanitarian Aid Instrument will provide needs-based delivery of EU assistance to save and preserve lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural hazards or man-made crises.

A significantly enhanced Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve will reinforce EU action in response to all aspects of the health crisis, as well as other emergencies. Funds can be channelled to provide emergency support as and when needed through EU instruments such as humanitarian aid in cases where funding under dedicated programmes proves insufficient.

Botswana repatriates citizens

Botswana will undertake efforts to repatriate citizens stranded abroad due to coronavirus travel bans, with more than 100 travellers to arrive on June 3 from Ethiopia, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Saturday, May 30.

In order to alleviate the plight of our citizens abroad who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, mostly students and those affected by the global travel bans, we have decided to assist them with financial assistance to either cope where they are or to return them home,” Masisi said in a speech, transmitted by TV channels.

Masisi said the government has already helped 400 people to return from South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Botswana medics have established 35 coronavirus cases, one of patients died.

However in spite of the relatively low contamination cases rate the economy has been severely hit, with real gross domestic product forecast to contract by 13% in 2020.

Botswana ended a 48-day lockdown a week ago, allowing businesses and schools to reopen under strict conditions but its borders are still closed with only returning citizens and essential goods allowed in.

At present the toursitic industry operators reamin trapped between clients requesting their money back, and accommodation in safari lodges reluctant to return deposits. This has caused serious cash flow problems.

The proposal of a voucher or credit for the future trips do not convene many clients,
explainging they found themselves in a financially fragile situaiton, and they are not sure they will be able to afford the luxury trip to Botswana natural resorts in the future.

As a result the Botswana communities has been suffering a serious economic set back caused by absence of toursits, who were the major consumers of local services of guides, drivers, restaurants, traditional crafts, and souvenirs, and other endeavours related to the touristic industry infrastructure.

Africa’s tourism industry in general has been hard hit by coronavirus lockdowns. Overnight, hotel bookings were canceled, safaris postponed and cultural tours abandoned. The operators are struggling to stay afloat in hope the tourists will come back soon.

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

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