October 12 – 18, 2020 | Algeria Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

October 18, 2020: Increase in the number of COVID cases-19- The Ministry of Health appeals to citizens

After the upsurge in recent days in the number of contaminations by the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform on Saturday called on citizens to respect the recommendations on preventive measures to avoid endangering their health, that of their families and society.

In a statement taken up by the official agency APS, the department of Abderrahmane Benbouzid said: “The current global epidemiological situation of COVID-19 and the relative increase in cases in our country calls the conscience of all citizens to respect the recommendations on preventive measures to avoid endangering their health, that of their families and society.

The Ministry of Health emphasised: “We call, once again, on all citizens to support the efforts made to limit the spread of this epidemic in our country, by scrupulously respecting the barrier measures, namely hand hygiene, physical distancing and the compulsory wearing of masks in all places and under all circumstances”.

As a reminder, the assessment communicated on Friday, October 16 by the Scientific Committee for monitoring the coronavirus epidemic in Algeria reported 221 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, 126 recoveries and 5 deaths.

Saturday’s report shows a slight drop in new confirmed cases but remains above the 200 daily cases (205 new confirmed cases in 24 hours), according to the Scientific Committee.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

18 October 2020: Border closure in Algeria-Travel agencies threatened with bankruptcy

They are 2,000 travel agencies to sink into bankruptcy, moreover definitive, due to the closure of the Algerian borders for seven (7) consecutive months. This according to the interview given by Bachir Djeribi, head of the trade union organisation, SNAV, to the Arabic-speaking daily Echorouk. The comments were published in yesterday’s edition of 17 October 2020.

40,000 employees, out of a total of 60,000, find themselves unemployed after the ruthless crisis that has reduced to nothing the said agencies swallowed up by ruin. The president of the National Union of Tourist and Travel Agencies (SNAV) is formal: The activity has decreased by 100%. This means that it is at a standstill. The edifice of companies specialising in the field has run out by more than half.

We must save what is left of it, Bachir Djeribi presses. Especially as those already bankrupt are incapable of being reborn from their sandres, explains the trade unionist. Very unlikely, even in the case of a possible opening next year, he adds. Afterwards, he explains the reason behind the possible non-return. These agencies, heavily in debt, have sold their equipment, he stipulates.

The closed borders have made vain the reopening of agencies last June, according to Djeribi

The fatal blow (icing on the cake) that brought them to chaos: The reimbursement of the costs of flight reservations made before 15 March. For the benefit of customers who bought unused airline tickets. Moreover, the reopening of travel agencies in Algeria on 7 June last was of no help to professionals in the sector. No profitability has in fact been achieved since that date to date.

The closed national borders pass through any attempt to restore the financial health of such companies. This is the first person in charge of the SNAV who says so. Consequently, Bashir Djeribi lifts the veil on a future claim action. He informs, in his sense, that his organisation will draw up a detailed balance sheet of the cash losses of the above mentioned agencies.

For further information, please consult (in French) the following link.

17 October, 2020: Algeria faces small peaks of COVID-19

The latest results of the Covid-19 communicated by the Scientific Committee show that the epidemic has started to rise again since last Monday.

A simple epidemiological comparison from Monday to last Thursday, which recorded 192 cases, shows a global evolution of 40 cases in terms of new contagions, whereas during this short period, an average of 9 deaths per day and around thirty patients placed in intensive care were deplored.

At first glance, these figures seem less worrying when compared to those recorded in neighbouring and European countries where the death toll is shattering all previous records.

This initial “transitory” epidemiological observation does not seem to inspire any particular concern among the members of the Scientific Committee monitoring the evolution of the pandemic.

Experts from the Scientific Committee, through Dr Mohamed Bekkat Berkani, insist on the need to preserve this “acquis” in the management and control of the epidemiological situation. “This situation requires the continuation of the fight against the virus and the maintenance of the policy of vigilance at all levels.

Citizens must in no way lower their guard. We must continue to be vigilant and to respect the rules of hygiene and physical distancing,” said the president of the Algerian Medical Council. In short, Algeria is facing “small peaks” of the pandemic that remain temporary in the opinion of experts.

For Dr. Bekkat Berkani, this slight “viral” rise in no way reflects a return in force of COVID-19, after a period of stabilization. “These new contamination figures do not really represent this slight rise, which has been going on for less than a week.

We will have to wait at least a week, which is the length of the incubation period, to speak of a recovery. But we’ll have to stay tuned and keep a close watch,” explained our interviewee.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

16 October, 2020: “Psychosis” among migrants after a new wave of “refoulement” to Niger

Since the beginning of September in Oran, in the north-west of Algeria, several people suspected of residing and working illegally on Algerian territory have been arrested and placed in a “refoulement” centre in precarious conditions. Regardless of their nationality, these people are then taken to the desert at the Nigerian border.

“It is true that we are immigrants here, but we have rights and duties (…). These are the conditions in which we sleep! We don’t manage to sleep. Corona disease… Look how we live in Algeria! “In a video sent to the editorial staff of the Observateurs de France 24, a man shows the place where he is with about fifty other people. On the ground, only foam mattresses allow them to sit or sleep in promiscuity.

Video sent by an Observer and filmed during the week of 5 October in the “refoulement centre” for illegal migrants in Oran, Algeria.

“These images were shot during the week of 5 October by Paul (pseudonym), a Cameroonian who has been living in Algeria for three years, in the “refoulement” centre in Oran:

I was about to run an errand and the gendarmes handcuffed me and put me in their van. In the centre, we had to eat once a day, the toilets were dirty, it smelled like urine. There were sick people. They told us we were going to Niger. Fortunately, one night I managed to escape. I came to Algeria to work. But here I have no passport, no papers, I live in a building site and I have to avoid the police.
These photos, which have also been sent to our editorial staff, bear witness to these arrests on building sites in the commune of Misserghin, in Oran, at the beginning of October.

“We don’t go out, we send messages to each other and we wait.” Several images relayed in WhatsApp groups bear witness to arrests on construction sites in Oran. Each time, those arrested are detained and then taken by bus or truck to the border with Niger, in the middle of the desert. Jacques (pseudonym), also from Cameroon, has been living in Algeria for eight years:

On 7 October, the police came to my home in Oran. But I have papers and the person with me too. They left us. Then they went to the neighbour’s house who had lost her paper. She didn’t have time to look for it, they took her away. She is in the desert [at the border] now. With or without papers, sometimes the police don’t know the difference.

There are no repatriations to the countries of origin for Cameroonians, Malians, etc. There are no repatriations to the countries of origin for Cameroonians, Malians, etc. There are no repatriations to the countries of origin for Cameroonians. The authorities just take them to the desert. But why would they go to Niger? Or would they return to the hinterland? Here, in Algeria, they have a life, a job. So they pay exorbitant prices for clandestine transport to go back to Algerian cities.

When there are these waves of arrests, it’s psychosis. The authorities know everything. Where the “Blacks” work, where the “Blacks” live. So we don’t go out, we send messages to each other on WhatsApp to find out what’s going on outside, and we wait. We’re used to it. It’s always the same story.
Another man, Soufiane (pseudonym), who did not specify his nationality, contacted the Observateurs’ editorial team on 12 October from the Oran refoulement centre. A few days later, he was taken to the Algerian-Nigerian border and sent a video showing several men in the desert. He said he was in Tamanrasset, without food and without any means of “going back to Oran”.

In recent weeks, operations to arrest migrants have been observed in Oran but also in Tlemcen, Algiers, Blida, Boumerdès, Tipaza, Zeralda, Sétif and Annaba, as stated in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) dated October 9. Migrants are apprehended at home, in the streets, or at their place of work.
HRW estimates that Algeria has expelled more than 3,400 migrants of at least 20 different nationalities to Niger, including 430 children and 240 women, since the beginning of September. According to the NGO, this brings the number of summary deportations to Niger to more than 16,000 in 2020, of which just over half involve Nigeriens.
Between 2016 and 2018, the editorial staff of the Observateurs de France 24 has documented several waves of similar arrests of West and Central African nationals.

Fouad Hassam, an activist with the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) explains that these expulsions stopped in 2019 with the Hirak protest movement, then with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. “But now they can justify themselves because they say that Covid-19 is regressing in the country,” he explains.

He worries that these operations are now being carried out with general indifference: “In 2018, NGOs were able to follow and react to the ’round-ups’, unlike what is happening now. No one is denouncing what is happening. »

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

15 October, 2020: Béjaïa, Passenger transporters strike

Passenger transporters in the wilaya of Bejaia, began, Thursday, October 15, a general strike to denounce the sanctions against some carriers in the wilaya who have not complied with preventive measures against the coronavirus (Covid-19) dictated by the authorities. “The buses have remained parked at the bus station,” said Radio Soummam Béjaïa, which said that this strike surprised passengers who found themselves stuck at the bus station of Béjaïa. 
According to trade unionist Abdelkader Boucherit of the UGCAA (General Union of Algerian Traders and Craftsmen), quoted by the same source, the action is justified by “a disapproval of carriers after the withdrawal of papers carried out by security agents with those of the transport department against those who do not comply with the directive on the limitation of the filling rate to 50%”. According to information from Radio Soummam Béjaïa, this “sanction” against transporters occurred after “the registration of new cases of COVID-19” following orientations from the wilaya services. The same source also reports that, for their part, the ETUB urban transport buses are stopped today following the strike of receivers who “denounce the many kinds of pressure orchestrated by their management against them”.

For more information, please consult the following link.

15 October, 2020: Here is the date for the resumption of Friday prayer.

The Minister of Communication Ammar Belhimer announced the reopening of the mosques, whose capacity exceeds 1,000 places for the Friday prayer, from November 6.
Indeed, during his appearance on national television ENTV, this Wednesday 14 October 2020, the Minister of Communication, Government Spokesman, Ammar Belhimer, said that the President of the Republic has decided the total opening of mosques and the resumption of Friday prayers in Algeria. 
“This decision was taken by the President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune; it also includes the respect of preventive measures aimed at fighting against the spread of Coronavirus,” he said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office.
As for the prayer of El Fadjr, it will be authorized from the same date throughout the national territory, including in the wilayas concerned by the partial confinement at home.
In the same context, Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordered the opening of the prayer room of Jamàa El Djazaïr on the occasion of the celebration of the Mawlid ennabaoui echarif ” the President of the Republic; after consultation with the High Islamic Council decided, initially; the opening of the prayer hall of Jamàa El Djazaïr on the occasion of the celebration of the Mawlid ennabaoui echarif which will be organised on Wednesday 11 Rabie El Aouel 1442 corresponding to 28 October 2020″; indicates a communiqué of the Prime Minister’s office.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

October 15, 2020: Regaining cases of COVID-19 in Algeria: “I am sounding the alarm”.

The number of daily cases of Covid-19 is on the rise again in Algeria after a drop of several weeks? How to explain this revival?

Prof. Riad Mehyaoui, member of the scientific committee monitoring the pandemic: In the last two days we have noticed an increase in the number of confirmed cases, after a downward trend of several weeks. We were reassured, but in view of what is happening abroad, we remained perplexed. Now we know that there is social openness, the opening of spaces and shops, and soon there will be the start of the school year. So we’re going to have to deal with regroupings. We know that the increase in the number of cases always corresponds to the regrouping of people, to an opening. We haven’t stopped reminding people to remain vigilant. We were reassured, but worried all the same. We can see that this evolution of Covid-19 is becoming routine and weary, some people no longer put on a mask, thinking that the virus is no longer with us. I see in some universities that the health protocols are not applied 100%. This is how I can explain this increase, which I hope will be temporary.

If the upward trend continues, what will happen at the start of the school year?

We have to live with the virus, we have to know how to manage the situation. I insist on the respect of barrier measures, especially physical distancing. It is impossible to stay locked up for a lifetime and wait for the virus to go away. We know very well that the only remedy against this virus is for everyone to stay at home, to make cities deserted and there is no more economy, social life, openness. And this is not possible, so the only solution is to respect the barrier measures.

Why, in your opinion, is there no rigour in the application of the measures taken to fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Algeria?

The individual and collective responsibility of the Algerian population is at stake. Wearing a seat belt has become a reflex because there is a law and a withdrawal of licence behind it. As for the mask, there has been no rigour in its application. There have been firm recommendations and laws, but, honestly, we have the impression that Algerian society has forgotten that Covid-19 is still with us. So I repeat, it is a matter of individual and collective responsibility. We can’t monitor everyone. The Algerian people will have to pull themselves together, that rigour is required for the application of barrier measures, especially on the eve of the new social season.

It has also been noted that awareness campaigns are rare…

There has been a lot in the media, on radio, on television, in newspapers, from billboards to shop entrances, but perhaps the idea of relaunching and repeating a media blitz to try to explain the situation and reawaken people’s awareness would be welcome. Above all, we must not go back to the starting position. I am sounding the alarm and I hope that there will be a revival of awareness and a resumption of collective and individual responsibility so that we can start protecting ourselves, to live too, and to say that the virus is still among us and that it is still contaminating.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

October 14, 2020: The commercialisation of dates heavily impacted by COVID-19- Hard blow for producers

Like many other sectors, that of phoeniculture is heavily affected by the Covid 19 pandemic with its restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles and a drastic drop in national consumption and exports since March 2020.

In Biskra, undeniable stronghold of the best date in the world with its superb phoenicultural oases totalling 4.2 million date palms, employing more than 20,000 people whose know-how and skills are no longer to be underlined, the Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development estimates that this year date production will be excellent in terms of quantity and quality.

“This season, our statistics established following site visits and surveys gleaned from farmers show a forecast harvest of 4,750,000 quintals of dates, 45% of which are Deglet Nour, the variety most sought after by consumers.

Like many other sectors, the foeniculture sector is heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with its restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles and a drastic drop in national consumption and exports since March 2020.

We remain attentive to the situation of the date market which is experiencing a sharp drop in prices which does not allow the fellahs to break even and announce the profit margins of other years”, declared Adnane Maatallah, in charge of communication at the DSA of Biskra.

Indeed, the Deglet Nour, which cost from 400 to 450 da last year is sold at 200 or even 150 da per kg on the wholesale market of Sidi Ghezzal. The other varieties of dates are sold off at derisory prices, it is noted. Obviously, this mercurialism plunges date producers and traders, who would not have sold all the previous production, into expectation and discontent.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

13 October, 2020: “Part of the population is immune”, according to Fawzi Derrar

In recent months, the epidemiological situation in Algeria has been marked by a downward trend in the number of cases of contamination. Despite a clear improvement in the sanitary situation, some specialists warn against a relaxation of barrier gestures.

In a statement made to the daily El Watan, the director general of the Pasteur Institute of Algeria, Fawzi Derrar, believes that “there is a part of the population that is immune, the majority of whom are young people. »

He explained, in this regard, that “that is why the fallout, especially the influx to hospitals, is less. This in fact explains the evolution of this epidemic, whose trend is downward and the curve is bell-shaped. »

However, Mr Derrar believes that “contamination could resume at a higher rate, especially in areas of high concentration, such as institutions during clusters and then in universities and schools. This could be a difficult step to manage”.

Mr Fawzi Derrar explained that the virus is currently stable, adding that “the virus has not been affected by a major mutation. It remains the same”, according to the same media outlet. He added that it is still active.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.