March 01 – 17, 2021 | Algeria Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

March 17, 2021

Vaccination campaign under fire

The vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Algeria continues to draw criticism from health professionals because of its slowness. Professor Kamel Senhadji, President of the National Health Security Agency, was alarmed by the slowness of this campaign, and Dr Mohamed Bekkat Berkani deplored Algeria’s delay in vaccination. For his part, Dr Lyes Merabet made the same observation.

The president of the National Union of Public Health Practitioners (SNPSP) deplored on Wednesday the difficulties encountered by the vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Algeria. “The report that we can make as professionals and as citizens is that it has started, yes certainly, but there are difficulties in the conduct of this vaccination campaign,” said Dr. Merabet in a statement to TSA on Wednesday.

For more information, please consult the following link.

99 Harragas, including 18 Moroccans, intercepted by the coastguard

A statement from the Ministry of National Defence said today that the coastguards of the wilayas of Chlef, Mostaganem, Oran and Ain Témouchent were able to intercept 99 illegal migrants, including 18 Moroccan citizens, who were trying to cross the Mediterranean from Algerian beaches. In addition to these 99 individuals who were trying to cross the Mediterranean illegally, the MDN communiqué also indicates that 177 other illegal migrants were arrested, still between 10 and 16 March, at Ain Salah, Ain Amenas, Tlemcen, and Bechar. These 177 individuals, the statement said, are of different nationalities.

For more information, please consult the following link.

COVID-19: According to a study, 50% of Algerians have been infected

In order to explain his remarks and clarify public opinion, Prof. Kamel Djenouhat highlighted “the results of a study carried out at the central laboratory of the EPH in Rouiba, which shows that the rate of positivity to COVID-19 in the Algerian population varies between 40 and 50% of the observation. Reported by the newspaper El Watan, “the study involved 1,000 asymptomatic people who were tested and distributed over three categories of population, including blood donors, who represent half of the equipment, health personnel and large industrial groups,” says the workers of Prof. Djenouhat.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 16, 2021

COVID-19: partial confinement extended in 16 wilayas

The measure of partial home confinement for an additional period of fifteen (15) days has been renewed by the Government in 16 wilayas of the country as part of the management of the health crisis related to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), said Tuesday a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.

According to the same source, the measure of partial home confinement from twenty-two hours (22) until the next day at five (5) in the morning is applicable in the following 16 wilayas: Adrar, Batna, Biskra, Blida, Tébessa, Tlemcen, Tizi-Ouzou, Algiers, Jijel, Sidi Belabbes, Constantine, Mascara, Ouargla, Oran, El Oued and Touggourt.

The other 42 wilayas are not affected by the partial home confinement measures. These are the following wilayas: Chlef, Laghouat, Oum El Bouaghi, Bejaia, Béchar, Bouira, Tamenghasset, Tiaret, Djelfa, Sétif, Saïda, Skikda, Annaba, Guelma, Médéa, Mostaganem, M’Sila, El Bayadh, Illizi, Bordj Bou Arréridj, Boumerdes, El Tarf and Tindouf, Tissemsilt, Khenchela, Souk Ahras, Tipaza, Mila, Ain Defla, Naâma, Ain Temouchent, Ghardaia, Relizane, Timimoun, Bordj Badji Mokhtar, Ouled Djellal, Beni Abbés, In Salah, In Guezzam, Djanet, El Meghaeir and El Meniaâ. These containment measures are applicable from Wednesday 17 March 2021.

“The walis may, after agreement with the competent authorities, take any measures required by the health situation in each wilaya, including the introduction, modification or modulation of the timetable, the measure of partial or total home confinement targeted at one or more communes, localities or neighbourhoods with outbreaks of contamination,” the same communiqué said.

With regard to public gatherings, it has been decided to extend the ban on all types of gatherings and family reunions throughout the country, including weddings, circumcisions and other events such as gatherings at cemeteries, the statement from the Prime Minister’s office said, adding that “the walis will ensure compliance with this ban and the application of regulatory sanctions against offenders and the owners of places hosting these gatherings”.

“The Government wishes to recall that despite the relative stability of the epidemiological situation observed in recent weeks, all caution must be observed, particularly in the face of the current risk of circulation of new variants of COVID-19 throughout the world, and reiterates its calls for everyone to maintain, to the highest degree, the determination, mobilisation and discipline that have made it possible, up to now, to considerably slow the spread of this epidemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our country,” the same document states.

“Therefore, we must continue to work, without respite, to safeguard what has been achieved through the discipline and sacrifices made by all and to avoid situations of crowding that favour the spread of this epidemic. We must also continue to scrupulously observe the recommended barrier measures, such as physical distancing, the wearing of compulsory masks and frequent hand washing to avoid a rebound of the epidemic and all its negative economic and social consequences,” the same source concluded.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 15, 2021

Spain: 8 Algerian Harragas arrested, Spanish police overwhelmed

Rubén Pulido, an expert in migration policies, had explained in a tweet that the boat found last Friday was still intact. The engines were still in place and an inscription in Arabic indicated that it belonged to illegal migrants, who were able to escape the control of Spanish security services.

The eight Algerian migrants took the road to the countryside, but they were soon caught by the Spanish police. Rubén Pulido indicated that these migrants are far from being an exception, according to him “several boats have arrived in Almeria during the last two days, and the Guardia Civil and the national police are unable to deal with the phenomenon. There are many shuttles that are not intercepted, and the one on Friday is just one example.

According to this expert in migration policy, the fact that Spanish maritime rescue officers hear that “their Algerian colleagues were able to intercept a boat heading for the Spanish coast”, “makes them furious”, because according to them, this indicates that “Algerian agents can block this invasion”. “Why don’t they do it more often?” the expert asked in his tweet, addressing Hana Jalloul Muro, Spain’s Secretary of State for Migration, as reported by the news website EuroWeeklyNews.

For more information, please consult the following link.

COVID vaccination in Algeria: Professor Senhadji sounds the alarm

Professor Kamel Senhadji, president of the national health security agency, said on Monday that the manufacturing plant of the Russian anti-COVID vaccine in Algeria was “very well on track”.

Professor Senhadji also stressed during the interview the need for Algeria to accelerate the pace of vaccination against the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, saying that “there is no worse” for Algeria than a slow pace of vaccination as it is now. He sounds the alarm.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Blended learning to be adopted ‘permanently’ from next year

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Abdelbaki Benziane, announced on Monday in Algiers the adoption “on a permanent basis”, from next year, of the hybrid teaching mode (face-to-face and distance learning) in the national system of higher education.

“The experience of hybrid teaching, in face-to-face and distance learning, introduced exceptionally in universities at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year because of COVID-19, is an opportunity for the adoption of this mode of teaching, on a permanent basis in the national system of higher education,” said Benziane at the opening of the National Conference of Universities.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Algeria will not suspend vaccination by AstraZeneca

Algeria will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. Professor Loumi Nadjat, Director of the National Centre for Pharmacovigilance and Material Vigilance (CNPM), said that the AstraZeneca vaccine campaign would continue, despite warnings from specialists about its use.

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March 13, 2021

COVID-19: Should Algeria suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine?

More than a month after its launch on Saturday 30 January, the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 is struggling to get up to speed. Professor Mostefa Khiati notes that mass vaccination “has not yet begun” in Algeria. The president of the Forem calls for an acceleration of the rate of vaccination “to completely reduce the spread of the virus” in Algeria.

And this while waiting for the results of the studies launched in particular by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).  “Among the vaccines purchased or received by Algeria, there is the AstraZeneca vaccine which has been causing problems for several days, since seven countries have just suspended its use because of the appearance of cases of thrombosis, and even a death in Austria which was not directly linked to a coagulation disorder. Even if it has not established a cause between these two elements, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) thinks that, because of the possibility that the AstraZeneca vaccine could cause thrombosis, there is reason to stop using it and this is why its suspension should be extended for another two weeks while awaiting studies,” explains Pr Khiati.

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March 11, 2021

Early parliamentary elections set for 12 June 2021

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has set June 12 as the date for early legislative elections, the Algerian presidency announced in a statement on Thursday.

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COVID-19: Algeria ‘may have achieved’ herd immunity

Professor Noureddine Smaïl, Director General of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), considered that it is “possible” that the Algerian population has reached collective immunity to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease.

“It is possible,” said Professor Smaïl in an interview with TSA on Wednesday. “Remember what we said, which is still relevant: there are 80% of benign forms for this infection linked to the COVID virus. We can say that among those we saw, there were certainly many who were asymptomatic and who may have acquired some immunity in the population, it is not impossible,” he said. “It is possible that we have already reached a certain level of infection that has given many Algerians this immunity,” said the director general of the INSP.

“But, as a scientist, I don’t have the evidence to tell you that. I don’t have the evidence to really say that this is the case, but I am convinced that the asymptomatic beg infection has certainly played a role in slowing down transmission in Algeria,” he says.

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March 09, 2021

Migrants in the Mediterranean: Report blames EU countries

In its report released on Tuesday 9 March 2021, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the European Council stated from the outset that “European countries are failing to protect refugees and migrants who try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean”. According to Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, “this backward step in the protection of the lives and rights of refugees and migrants is worsening and causes thousands of preventable deaths every year”.

Indeed, the report entitled “A Distressing Call for Human Rights. Migrants increasingly unprotected in the Mediterranean”, reviewed “developments between July 2019 and December 2020 in five main areas”, mainly concerning “the central Mediterranean route“. These are “effective search and rescue operations; safe and swift disembarkation of rescued persons; cooperation with non-governmental organisations; cooperation with third countries; and safe and legal channels”.

2400 people lost their lives between July 2019 and December 2020 in the Mediterranean

The human rights situation in the Mediterranean remains quite deplorable, according to the same source, which notes that no less than “2,400 people lost their lives during the period in question”. This figure could be much lower than the reality. This situation is mainly due to the “gradual withdrawal of state vessels from the Mediterranean and the measures taken to hinder the rescue operations of NGOs”, the report notes.

Thus, the Commissioner’s Office reiterated its call “to the Member States of the Council of Europe to rapidly implement its recommendations aimed at preserving the lives and protecting the rights of persons in distress at sea”.

The report concludes: “It is high time that European countries put an end to this shameful tragedy and adopt migration policies that respect human rights.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 08, 2021

Morocco closes its airspace to Egypt and Algeria

Morocco continues to “bunkerise”. Since 5 March, the country has suspended its air links with Egypt and Algeria. The ban, in force for an initial period of 3 weeks, follows an upsurge in cases of contamination with new variants of COVID-19 in the kingdom.

This new measure brings to 20 the number of countries to which Morocco has closed its borders since mid-December 2020. Belgium and Italy were added on 2 March, joining Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Turkey, which have been on the “red list” since 21 February. Long before that, the closure of airspace included the UK, South Africa, Denmark, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, as well as Brazil.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Towards a feminisation of irregular migration?

The socio-economic impact of the coronavirus has led to more people attempting to cross the Mediterranean, one of the world’s deadliest migration routes. More than 1,200 migrants died last year at sea, and the trend continues in the first quarter of 2021.

According to the European agency Frontex, one in ten irregular migrants leave the shores of Africa. More than 70,000 people left Libya, Algeria and Tunisia in 2020, 140% more than the previous year. The number of young people trying to reach Spain by dugout canoe has also increased on the West African coast. Last year, more than 23,000 migrants arrived in the Canary Islands, eight times more than in 2019.

More and more women are attempting this journey, the international police said, adding that “alternative and potentially more dangerous sea routes will continue to be explored”.

Nigerian women make up 30% of the women arriving in Europe via the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Benin City in southern Nigeria is the hub for the recruitment of women transported by criminal networks. The women are trafficked into prostitution with the promise of a better life for potential victims through the promise of a decent job. In November 2017, 26 Nigerian teenage girls were found drowned off the Libyan coast. Two of them were pregnant. Italy organised a ceremony in Salerno in their memory, placing a white rose on each coffin.

In Africa, an irregular migrant may travel for days or even weeks before arriving in a coastal country open to the Mediterranean. During this time of clandestine life, many women are exposed to sexual violence.
Women victims of the continent’s mafia networks do not only end up on the streets of Europe, but also in several African countries, such as Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and especially Libya, where many would-be migrants remain stranded.

For more information, please consult the following link.

National Cultural Festival of Professional Theatre in Algiers: At the theatre tonight, it’s all about

Good news for theatre lovers. After a long absence forced by the health crisis, which will have lasted a year, the boards of the Algerian national theatre Mahieddine Bachtarzi will finally resound, thanks to the National Cultural Festival of Professional Theatre, back, taking place from 11 to 21 March 2021 at the TNA, in Algiers.

For more information, please consult the following link.

8 March: Women’s Hirak in Algiers

Hundreds of women marched on Monday 8 March in Algiers, on the occasion of their international day. The demonstration took place in the city centre, along Didouche-Mourad Street to the Grande-Poste, and attracted a large crowd. Hundreds of women of all ages took part. The demonstration took place peacefully and was perfectly organised. The security services were discreet and let it happen.

The atmosphere and the slogans chanted are also reminiscent of the Hirak. It’s like one of those Friday or Tuesday marches. The national emblem on the shoulders, placards, chants and slogans almost exclusively “political”. We can venture to say that very few of the demands expressed are related to the status of women. For once, and in the light of current events, the women demonstrators made it clear that their presence was in line with the popular movement.

“We’re not here to celebrate, we’re here to get you out,” chanted protesters along the route, along with other familiar refrains.

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March 06, 2021

“The speed of spread of the mutant strain is frightening”.

The sanitary situation tends to be stable, but the intrusion of the new mutant strain of which, according to the Pasteur Institute, 8 cases have been reported, raises fears of a rapid spread of this British variant. The director of prevention and control of communicable diseases at the Ministry of Health, Samia Hammadi, told a colleague from Radio Sétif yesterday that the announcement of cases of the new mutant strain of COVID-19 is the prerogative of the Pasteur Institute in Algiers and that any publication on social networks of unfounded information should be avoided.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 04, 2021

COVID-19: China suspends Air Algérie on the Algiers route

Any company “importing” COVID-19 on Chinese soil is systematically sanctioned. No carrier, even Chinese, escapes this. After Kenya Airways and Egyptair, it is now Air Algérie’s turn to be subjected to the rigours of the law.

Air Algérie is banned from operating on its charter route Algiers – Chengdu for 2 weeks as from 8 March 2021. This sanction, taken on Tuesday 2 March by the Chinese authorities, follows the detection of 5 passengers tested positive to COVID-19, upon their arrival in Chengdu on flight AH3060 of 18 February 2021.

“These are four Chinese nationals and one crew member who boarded from Algiers airport with a negative PCR test 72 hours before the flight,” said Air Algerie spokesman Amine Andaloussi.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 03, 2021

Algeria – Tunisia: Here is the future of border controls

With European equipment, Tunisia decided to reinforce its sanitary protocol along its borders with Algeria. According to information reported by the Tunisian press, the European Union (EU) has offered new isolation units to the Jasmine country. These units should be installed along Tunisia’s borders with Algeria. More precisely, at three border crossing points. One in Melloula, in the governorate of Jendouba. The second at Bouchebka (Kasserine). And a third at Hezoua (Tozeur)

For more information, please consult the following link.

When the COVID vaccination campaign gets its priorities wrong

More than two months after its launch on Saturday 30 January, the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 is struggling to get up to speed in Algeria due to the lack of sufficient quantities of vaccine. In addition to its slowness, this campaign raises questions about the choice of people to be vaccinated in priority. After the ministers, it’s time for the leaders of political parties? One is tempted to think so after seeing Abdelkader Bengrina, who decidedly does not put his nose outside without creating controversy, being administered the precious vaccine against COVID-19.

Before the leader of the El Bina party, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad and several members of his government were also vaccinated, also with great publicity. What’s wrong with senior officials setting an example for a population that may have been influenced by the bad propaganda that has followed the development of vaccines around the world? Seen in this light, there is indeed no problem, and all the fat people who received the antidote in front of the cameras will have done only what was expected of them.

Except that the question of the population’s reluctance has never arisen, or at least this kind of apprehension has not been widely expressed in the media or in the barometer constituted by social networks.

On the contrary, the bulk of the grievances directed at the authorities revolve around the unavailability of the vaccine. In the eyes of Internet users, they have not done enough to quickly acquire the quantities of doses needed to start mass vaccination in time. This is
not entirely untrue, and the authorities’ own figures confirm it: 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and as many of the British vaccine AstraZeneca acquired at the end of January, and another 200,000 offered by China a week ago.

A quota barely sufficient for 150,000 people, with two doses each. Compared to the announced objective of vaccinating 70% of the population, this is far from being the case.

There is no reason to doubt the government’s ability to bring in the promised quotas on time, but those received so far are paltry and would have been better spent on those who are in dire need; the chronically ill, the elderly and, above all, the medical profession.

For more information, please consult the following link.

Umrah and Hajj 2021: What will change this year

Last Monday, the head of the health sector in Saudi Arabia announced that vaccination against the coronavirus will be mandatory for anyone wishing to perform the fifth pillar of Islam in 2021.

The minister also stressed the vital importance of vaccination, before calling for a large mobilisation of staff with the aim of setting up and operating health facilities in Mecca in an efficient manner, in order to avoid both a repetition of the 2020 scenario by authorising the pilgrimage to only a minority, but also with the aim of limiting the spread of the virus as much as possible, while allowing access to everyone to this holy place.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 02, 2021

Whether or not Tarawih is performed will depend on the development of the COVID-19

The chairman of the Ministerial Commission of Fatwa, Mohand Idir Mechnane, said Tuesday in Algiers that the performance or not of the Tarawih prayer in mosques will depend on the evolution of the epidemic of COVID-19, assuring that the decision will be taken in the interest of citizens and in accordance with the precepts of Islam.In a statement to APS, on the sidelines of a conference organised by Radio Quran on the fatwa in Algeria, Mechnane said that the issuance of a fatwa on whether or not to perform the Tarawih prayer in mosques will be decided in coordination with all parties concerned, taking into account the evolution of the epidemic of COVID-19.

For more information, please consult the following link.

COVID-19 vaccine: hundreds of thousands of doses received in March

The Minister of Health, Population and Hospital Reform, Abderrahmane Benbouzid announced on Tuesday from Blida, the expected reception during March of hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine against COVID-19. “Algeria is preparing to receive new arrivals of anti- COVID -19 vaccine, estimated at hundreds of thousands of doses, during March,” Benbouzid said in a statement to APS, on the sidelines of an inspection visit to a number of hospital departments of the CHU Franz Fanon in Blida.

For more information, please consult the following link.

March 01, 2021

The return in force of sub-Saharan migrants in the streets of Algiers

They can be seen everywhere, on the motorway ramps and in the centre of Algiers. After an eclipse of a few months, sub-Saharan migrants are back in force in the capital. In Algiers-centre, Ben Aknoun and other districts, there are many of them squatting on the pavements and around the markets and shopping streets.  Women, flanked by 2 or 3 children, hold out their hands, begging passers-by to give them a coin.

As for the little cherubs, they are sometimes left unattended, wandering in the middle of the road without trousers or shoes. Others, no taller than three apples, pull you by the sleeve, asking you for alms, in an approximate dialectal Arabic. In Rue Capitaine Menani, near Rue Didouche Mourad and the RCD headquarters, there are several sub-Saharan women sharing a piece of pavement.

For one of the shopkeepers on this street, the situation is untenable. “They don’t belong here! They block the entrance to our shops and throw their rubbish everywhere. Their dormitory is just a stone’s throw from here, in the Barnave passage. Go there and ask the local residents in what state they find their environment every morning! “

We went to the Barnave passage (Cité Barnave) which adjoins the Ferhat Boussaâd market (Ex-Meissonnier). One of the inhabitants of the building whose entrance overlooks this passage rants: “Every evening, from 7pm, whole families of sub-Saharan migrants with wives, husbands and children set up their squat here.  There are between 15 and 20 individuals. This greatly disturbs the peace and quiet of the city, in addition to the unhealthy conditions that this implies. In the morning, we discover urine and excrement in the corners. The smells are unbearable. There is also all kinds of packaging and cardboard. In these times of pandemic, this situation increases the risk of COVID-19 contamination.

One of the shopkeepers with his shop on this passageway can hardly contain his anger at this situation: “We have drawn the attention of the police. The security guards chase them, but these migrants end up coming back.  Their numbers are increasing. Every night they settle here for the night, spread their bedding on cardboard boxes and leave this passageway littered with rubbish, before going to beg. The public authorities must react as soon as possible”.

The generosity of Algerians

Most of these sub-Saharan migrants engage in begging in order to survive. Pitying these women flanked by small children, passers-by show generosity by buying them food. They also give them clothes, medicine and some money. Some also offer nappies and baby milk, as we saw in this report.

In this time of pandemic, the presence of these migrants is of great concern to citizens. “They could be a vector of transmission of the virus. Every day, they approach you, touch you to ask for money. These migrants from sub-Saharan Africa live in the street, in a blatant lack of hygiene”, observes a passer-by. Organised in a network, with women and children as outposts, the sub-Saharan migratory flow has been on the rise again in recent weeks after a period of calm. A situation that could become uncontrollable in the coming months if the public authorities do not react quickly.

Algeria is facing a considerable influx of sub-Saharan migrants who are fleeing economic difficulties and wars in their countries, but the conditions under which they are cared for are poor. They roam the streets of Algiers and the cities and even villages asking for alms, while some work illegally in construction sites or as domestic servants.

To combat this phenomenon, the government regularly organises operations to repatriate or expel migrants to their countries.

Last October, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Algeria had expelled more than 3,400 migrants of at least 20 different nationalities, including 430 children and 240 women, to Niger since the beginning of September. In ten months, Algeria has expelled 16,000 migrants to Niger, half of whom are Nigeriens, according to the same source. HRW recalled that Algeria has taken 50,000 sub-Saharan migrants to Niger in 2018 and 2019. The NGO had called on President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to “end arbitrary detentions and collective expulsions, investigate alleged abuses, and establish fair and legal individualised review procedures for asylum seekers and irregular migrants.”

In November 2019, the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) had reported that 500 sub-Saharan migrants arrived every day in Algeria, which is regularly accused by human rights NGOs in particular, of mistreating sub-Saharan migrants.

For more information, please consult the following link.