World Tour – Chinese church raids, and harvesting crops in the U.K.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Thousands line up for food packages—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [South Africa food packs]

Thousands of people lined up in South Africa on Saturday to collect food packages. The line stretched for more than 2 miles. Loudspeakers blared, advising people to stay 6 feet apart.

South Africa has been under strict coronavirus restrictions for five weeks, sending the wobbly economy farther into recession. Forty-five million people face critical food shortages.

To help meet that need, local charities gathered donations of milk, fish, and beans. Volunteers used wheelbarrows and carts to transport sacks of flour and corn. Many people waited in line overnight, some for more than 14 hours.

AUDIO: I’m so happy. I came here last night, but now I’m done. Thank you, God.

South Africa began to reopen its agriculture sector over the weekend and allowed some manufacturing and retail businesses to resume.

Protests in Lebanon, government requests aid from IMF—Next, we go to the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Lebanese protestors]

Demonstrators in Lebanon chanted “revolution” and tossed Molotov cocktails into a bank last week. The protesters sang and cheered each time they hit their target.

The uproar began last fall when the government proposed taxing several internet messaging apps. But the protests have escalated as the coronavirus continues to worsen Lebanon’s economic troubles. On Friday, the country officially requested financial aid from the International Monetary Fund … but that didn’t satisfy frustrated protesters.

LEBANESE STUDENT: We have a call for the World Bank and IMF to give us loans again, to put us under even larger public debt, and privatizing the whole state, and I don’t think that can help.

Prices have skyrocketed and hundreds of businesses have closed. Local business owners blame the financial woes on a blend of regional turmoil, high interest rates, and government corruption.

Chinese officials raid house churches—Next, we go to Asia. 


Chinese authorities raided a house church last month in the middle of Sunday worship. A video of the raid shows officers shouting and trying to drag someone to the door. One of the church members was beaten and had to seek medical treatment.

On April 21st, police raided another house church. They took pictures of the property and interrogated church members, then shut down the church’s activities in the name of “pandemic prevention.”

Furloughed British citizens take on seasonal farm work—And finally, we end today in Europe.

Thousands of workers in the U.K. have been laid off or furloughed from their usual jobs. Now, the government is encouraging those workers to consider helping with the harvest.

Typically, British farmers hire migrant workers from Eastern Europe to harvest their  crops. But with most borders closed, the U.K. is short about 80,000 workers. Instead, bricklayers, waitresses, and engineers are heading to the fields.

AUDIO: I’ve got three children, so I need to be working.

The locals are harvesting asparagus, cucumbers, strawberries, and beans. Students and low-risk prisoners are also pitching in. But some farmers aren’t sure if the workers will stick it out through the entire harvest season. They worry some might get bored or go back to their old jobs, abandoning the crops mid-season.

But one fruit grower said the response so far has been overwhelming: 700 people applied for less than 200 positions he had to fill.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) People practice safe distancing as they line up to receive food handouts in the Olievenhoutbos township of Midrand, South Africa, Saturday May 2, 2020. though South Africa begun a phased easing of its strict lockdown measures on May 1, its confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to increase. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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