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Covid-19 Affects South Africa’s Asylum Seekers

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Covid-19 Affects South Africa's Asylum Seekers

The outbreak of coronavirus has basically changed the way South Africa’s refugee operation works.  Some of the refugee reception offices in the country have even stopped accepting new asylum applications in order to adhere to the government’s strict measure to deal with the covid-19 pandemic.

Afraid of the spread of the coronavirus in the country, the South African government has closed nearly half of its 72 ports of entry.  Following president Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a state of disaster last week, some refugee reception offices also stopped issuing and renewing asylum permits as their staff wait for protective gear to arrive.

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There has been no confirmation by the department of home affairs of any measures now that would take care of arriving asylum seekers.

The international organization for migration and the United Nations high commission for refugees, UNHCR, have said they would temporarily halt refugee resettlement.

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UNHCR wrote on its website that this action is inevitable because of drastic entry bans into many countries because of covid-19.  It says restrictions on international air travel also would make it difficult to carry out its refugee resettlement program because of severe disruptions in travel arrangements.

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Burundi, Sierra Leone Confirm Index Cases Of Coronavirus

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Burundi, Sierra Leone Confirm Index Cases Of Coronavirus

Burundi and Sierra Leone have confirmed Covid-19 index cases. Both countries were among a handful of African countries deemed coronavirus-free.

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio said on Tuesday its first confirmed case involves a 37-year-old man who traveled from France mid-march and had been in isolation since his entry into the country.

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The government says it would not announce a total lockdown yet.  A year-long state of public health emergency has already been declared, commercial flights have been suspended, and schools have been closed.

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Meanwhile, Burundi`s health minister Thadée Ndikumana announced on Tuesday two nationals had tested positive for covid-19 after travelling from Rwanda and Dubai.

There had been doubts over Burundi’s claim that no-one in the country had coronavirus.

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Ethiopia Postpones Landmark August Election Due To Coronavirus

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Ethiopia Postpones Landmark August Election Due To Coronavirus

Ethiopia has postponed August parliamentary elections because of the coronavirus outbreak. The country’s electoral board said on Tuesday, the move to delay the highly anticipated general poll has been endorsed by key opposition parties as the coronavirus makes it impossible to prepare.

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The country says a new schedule would be announced once the threat of the pandemic was over.

Voter registration was to begin in April, and political parties would have commenced their campaigns late in May, but much of its planning, such as obtaining election materials on time and training staff, had been disrupted by the pandemic.

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The elections were to be the first since prime minister and Nobel Prize winner Abiy Ahmed came to office in 2018.  He has carried out wide-ranging reforms over the last two years.

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Lawmakers are expected to vote to extend the government’s mandate that will expire in a few months.

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Covid-19 Derails South Sudan’s Peacekeeping Troop Rotation

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Covid-19 Derails South Sudan's Peacekeeping Troop Rotation

The coronavirus pandemic has caused South Sudan to suspend troop rotation in its peacekeeping operation. The move is aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.  But this has raised procedural concerns and poses immediate and longer-term implications.

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Five Asian countries are affected by this suspension.  China, South Korea, India, Nepal and Cambodia contribute a third of sixteen thousand peacekeeping staff currently deployed by the united nations mission in South Sudan.

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Some experts believe this decision to suspend the troop rotation will have an immediate effect on the mission and the UN’s broader peacekeeping capacity.  It is also believed there would be implications for long-term peace and stability in South Sudan.

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Experts say a prolonged stalled troop rotation would very likely cause severe fatigue among troops overdue for replacement. Rotations usually happen every twelve months.

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