World Tour – COVID-19 in South Sudan, and rabbis in Germany

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER—South Sudan vice president tests positive—We start today here in Africa.

The vice president of South Sudan has tested positive for COVID-19. He is the latest in a string of top officials who have contracted the virus.

AUDIO: Sudaneese Minister of Health – I cannot tell you how many were positive…but of course you know the First Vice President has come out publicly, the minister for defense made a statement yesterday, the minister for information…

All 15 members of the nation’s coronavirus task force have also tested positive.

South Sudan is emerging from a devastating six-year civil war. The country formed a unity government in February, but still faces a humanitarian crisis. It lacks roads and adequate healthcare facilities.

South Sudan has registered almost 1000 cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths.

Hungary ends state of emergency—Next, we go to Hungary.

AUDIO: We are now nearing the end, thankfully, of the emergency situation.

Hungary’s government says it will end its state of emergency on June 20th. Lawmakers plan to revoke the emergency powers law—a controversial bill that gave Prime Minister Viktor Orban sweeping power during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The policy gave Orban the ability to rule by decree and sidestep parliament. It also added jail time for anyone who spread what the government called false information about its pandemic strategy. When the law was passed, it had no set end date. Critics and rights groups called it a power grab. But one Hungarian politician said that wasn’t true.

AUDIO: We didn’t crack down on anything. We just had to deal with a situation that was extraordinary.

Hungary’s justice minister said she expects an apology from anyone who has “attacked” the country with “a slander campaign.”

Germany reintroduces military rabbis—Next, to Germany.

AUDIO: [German Lawmakers applaud]

Lawmakers applauded Thursday as the government reintroduced rabbis to the military. It’s the first time rabbis have been allowed in the armed forces since the 1930s.

Rabbis were part of the German military during World War One. They were banned when Adolf Hitler took power and the Nazis began removing Jews from public life.


Germany’s defense minister said the move would help combat anti-Semitism and extremism in the armed forces. The military doesn’t officially record troops’ religious beliefs, but it estimates there are 300 Jewish soldiers on active duty. Germany has about 180,000 troops.

The government also has plans to introduce Muslim imams to the military.

Notre Dame square reopens—And finally, we end today in France.

AUDIO: [Sound from Notre Dame]

The courtyard in front of Notre Dame Cathedral is now open to the public. It’s the first time the space has been open since last year’s devastating fire. The blaze nearly destroyed the 13th-century church. Three hundred tons of lead paneling went up in flames, sending toxic dust over the surrounding area. Reconstruction crews have been deep cleaning the site for months.

AUDIO: [Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo]

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called Notre Dame “the soul of Paris,” and said the reopening was “a form of rebirth.”

The cathedral itself is still under construction and will remain closed for several years.

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

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus) People walk on the forecourt of Notre Dame’s Cathedral, in Paris, Sunday, May 31, 2020. 

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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