In this week’s news highlights: COVID-19 infections confirmed in Ethiopia’s largest refugee camp; No further EU funding for roads in Eritrea; Eritrea requested aid from the EU for COVID-19; Eritrea starves Red Sea region under guise of COVID-19; Mixed Migration Centre updates; Locust plague keeps threatening Horn of Africa; Greek coastguard neglects 32 refugees in distress for hours; Pressure against Greece for illegal pushback operations; Immense decline of Eritreans granted refugee status in Germany; Allegations of torture of migrants and refugees by Croat officials; Migrant crossings into Europe on the rise again; Information campaign for MEPs on Mediterranean migration routes; Court case against the EU for forced labour in Eritrea kicks off; 12 people missing after boat capsized off Libyan coast; Libyan Emergency food project by UNHCR and WFP; MSF says COVID-19 exposes failed politics of aid in Libya; HRW urges investigation of war crimes in Libya; COVID-19 impact on migrant smuggling and human trafficking; And IDPs at all time high.
This month, communities across East Africa, which are already unsteady from the impact of COVID-19, are now also forced to fight against new swarms of locusts. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the locust outbreaks in Ethiopia and Somalia are the worst in 25 years and in Kenya the worst in 75 years. The FAO expects that swarms will rise in June and July at the time of harvest and could cause ‘biblical’ famines. David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme (WFP) said that urgent action is needed to avoid a catastrophe. The President of the African Development Bank believes that an unprecedented race against time has begun to urgently halt the progression and potentially destructive impact of COVID-19 and the locust swarms in Africa. The European Commission and the FAO have gathered funds to help in the fight against the growing locust swarms but challenges remain due to COVID-19.
As many European countries continue to struggle with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, the Council of Europe and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) encourage member states to benefit from the support refugee and migrant health professionals can provide to national health systems at this critical juncture. In addition, the lack of agricultural workforce due to the closure of borders to seasonal workers remains a potential threat to the entire European food supply chain, according to the European Commission. As a solution, countries like Germany, Italy, UK, Belgium and Ireland are exploring the opportunities for granted working permits. This article gives a brief look into the different solutions and remaining challenges.