Ethiopian PM urges tolerance as anti-foreigner sentiment rises over virus

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Appeal for tolerance: Ethiopia’s prime minister and 2019 Nobel peace laureate, Abiy Ahmed (AFP Photo/Phill Magakoe)

Addis Ababa (AFP) – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday urged citizens not to discriminate against certain nationalities as virus cases rise, after reports of anti-foreigner sentiment in the country.

Ethiopia has recorded six cases of the novel coronavirus over the past six days, and the United States embassy on Wednesday said there were a number of reports of verbal and physical harassment of foreigners deemed to be bringing in the virus.

“As COVID-19 awareness efforts continue nationally, it is important to note that the virus is not related to any country or nationality,” Abiy said in a statement.

Abiy was awarded the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for reaching out to Ethiopia’s rival, Eritrea.

“Everyone is equally at risk… Prevention efforts need not be a barrier to our humanity and disposition for compassion. As a global community, we are each other’s keepers. Let us not let fear rob us of our humanity.”

Three of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 are Japanese nationals, one is a British diplomat and two others are Ethiopians.

In its security alert, the US embassy said it had received reports of “a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment revolving around the announcement of COVID-19 in Ethiopia.”

“Reports indicate that foreigners have been attacked with stones, denied transportation services … being spat on, chased on foot, and been accused of being infected with COVID-19.”

Africa has lagged behind in confirmed cases of coronavirus, and now has reported over 730 cases across the continent, according to an AFP tally.

“Before last Friday 10 countries have reported cases of coronavirus, mostly imported. Over the weekend the continent tipped over and as we now know over 34 countries that have reported coronavirus infection,” the director of the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC) John Nkengasong said Thursday.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday urged Africa to “wake up” and warned the official numbers likely did not reflect the full picture.

“Probably we have undetected cases or unreported cases,” he said.

Experts have repeatedly warned about the perils for the continent, given its weak health infrastructure, poverty, conflicts, poor sanitation and urban crowding.

However several nations have taken strict measures, completely banning flights, banning non-residents, shutting schools and blocking mass gatherings.

Nkengasong said some 60,000 tests should be rolled out across the continent by Monday.

“The three leading countries (Egypt, South Africa, Algeria) were part of the countries that had the first influx of cases. You can see community infection is fast establishing in those countries,” he said.


  1. Ok bigots!!! Congratulations!!! I congratulate you because this is the fruit of the poisonous seed of hatred you have been sowing. You have honed your skills in such demonic spirit on your own fellow countrymen/women. You had chased that young man/woman and stoned him/her to death for the only reason that he/she was of an Amhara heritage. You were screaming at them with ‘I told you to get out not once but more than 3 times before. I had told you to get out of my territory umpteen times but you did not listen so you have to go now my way!!! Paaw!!! Paawww!! And silence still begging for mercy!!! The other side of you was seen chasing that Oromo young man/woman and knife him/her to death. You were screaming with ‘I have been telling you that you are an Oromo extremist; not an extremist individual but an Oromo extremist responsible for killing my nephew in Mecharaa(Macaaraa) last year. I will let you meet your God my way. One deep stab at the heart and three at the neck. And Silence still begging for mercy!!! Now your graduates from your Ivy College of hate mill have turned their eyes on innocent foreigners!!! O!!! Bigots!!! O! Non believing bigots!!!! Why were you even born in that land of Negash, Bilal, Mary Magdalene and Deacon Mikaeel? I wish you were not even born anywhere!!!!

  2. The three Japanese Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia had arrived in Ethiopia separately , with one of the three being hired bodyguard chauffeur driver for the others, who traveled to Ethiopia to guard the billions worth of transactions the Japanese were about to conduct when they take meat poultry from Ethiopia to Japan regularly . Ethiopian Airlines is getting banned allover the world so it is time for the Ethiopian government to identify the Amino Acid deficient sectors in the society , so they get cured by providing the meat poultry to those who need it for health reasons rather than giving it to the people who got high protein in their system already.

  3. Prostitutes and pimps had went out of business in Addis due to CoronaVirus Covid-19 , all along the prostitutes and the pimps were the only ones that secured the safety of their favorite high paying customers-the foreigners ferenjis.

    Now with the pimps and the prostitutes out of the picture the real feeling sentiments of the Ethiopians is coming out.

  4. Each individuals who owned businesses and worked in Washington DC USA are given less Covid-19 stimulus money when compared to the money the Ethiopian businesses in other states are about to be given.

    Washington DC is treated as a US territory rather than an equal state within USA which is tremendously affecting the many hundreds of thousands Ethiopian owners of small businesses or self employed operated in Washington DC USA.

    D.C. could get severely shortchanged in federal coronavirus stimulus bill
    10 hours ago

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