Ethiopia: Reported anti-foreigner sentiment over COVID 19 pandemic, manufactured?

The US embassy in Addis Ababa has issued security alert over what it called anti-foreigner sentiment. Is there a possibility for those behaviors to be manufactured by those whose primary intent is painting Ethiopia in a negative light to the outside world?

Ethiopia _ anti-foreigner sentiment
US embassy Addis Ababa. Credit : US Embassy

March 19, 2020

As the consequence of three decades of legalized ethnic-based politics, with constitutional and all sorts of administrative support, Ethiopia has recently been living internal problems that affected people to people relation. So bad that people, especially in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, have been killed simply because of their ethnic background.

True, some foreigners, including the CEO of Dangote Cement, were killed in the same region in what appeared to be a politically motivated murder albeit the results of the investigations are unavailable yet

Despite all that, Ethiopia has been known as one of the hospitable countries. As it turns out, that seems to be changing following the news that COVID 19 is now in Ethiopia.

The US embassy in Addis Ababa published a security alert on Wednesday on its website regarding what it called anti-foreigners sentiment in connection with COVID 19 pandemic. Ethiopian authorities have not investigated the matter whether the issue is a manufactured one to put Ethiopia in a negative light or otherwise.

The Security alert from the US embassy reads as follows :

Security Alert: Reports of Anti-Foreigner Sentiment

LOCATION: Ethiopia

EVENT: The Embassy continues to receive reports regarding a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment revolving around the announcement of COVID-19 in Ethiopia. Typical derogatory comments directed at foreigners, the terms “China” and “Ferengi” (foreigner), have been reportedly coupled with the label “Corona,” indicating a disparaging view on the link between the outbreak of COVID-19 and foreigners in Ethiopia.

Incidents of harassment and assault directly related to COVID-19 have been reported by other foreigners living within Addis Ababa and other cities throughout the country. Reports indicate that foreigners have been attacked with stones, denied transportation services (taxis, Ride, etc.), being spat on, chased on foot, and been accused of being infected with COVID-19.

Please remain mindful of this issue, and please employ sound security practices.


Avoid walking/hiking/biking alone.
Do not walk throughout the city or residential areas, especially after dark.
If yelled at or spat upon, do not engage or otherwise escalate the encounter. Do your best to immediately leave the situation/area.
Maintain situational awareness. Avoid wearing headphones or using handheld electronic devices in public area.
If you think you are being followed, do not go home. Go to the closet major establishment, hotel or police station.
If you are in a vehicle, lock your doors and keep your window rolled up.

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
+251-111-306-911 or 011-130-6000 (after hours)

State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena

6 Responses to "Ethiopia: Reported anti-foreigner sentiment over COVID 19 pandemic, manufactured?"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.