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UNHCR appeals to government in protecting needs of asylum seekers

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR has appealed to the Ethiopian government in the implementation of COVID-19 measures, to take into consideration the protection needs of asylum seekers.

As part of the measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Ethiopia on 23 March 2020, announced a series of additional measures, including instructing the National Defense Forces “ halt the movement of people along all borders, with the exception of incoming goods to the country”.

In a statement yesterday, the UNHCR said these are necessary measures in times of crisis and appealed to the government that in the implementation of these measures, to take into consideration the protection needs of asylum seekers as outlined in a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The high commissioner stated “With the world mobilizing to combat the spread of COVID-19, many countries are rightly adopting exceptional measures, limiting air travel and cross-border movements. “And for many people around the world, everyday life has come to a standstill, or is being transformed in ways that we had never envisaged.

“But wars and persecution have not stopped – and today, across the globe, people are continuing to flee their homes in search of safety. I am increasingly worried by measures adopted by some countries that could block altogether the right to seek asylum.”

If health risks are identified, screening arrangements can be put in place, together with testing, quarantine and other measures. These will enable authorities to manage the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees in a safe manner, while respecting international refugee protection standards designed to save lives, it added.

The statement also added UNHCR recognizes Ethiopia’s long-standing open-door and progressive refugee policies. “We are closely monitoring the situation of the coronavirus and are working with the Government of Ethiopia to implement preventative measures in refugee camps,” the high commissioner said in a statement.

“UNHCR Ethiopia stands ready to support any measures that can enhance the arrival of asylum-seekers and refugees in a safe manner while compliant with health instructions of the Ministry of Health and WHO.”

Source: The Ethiopian Herald