Jordan has become one of the world’s first countries to start Covid-19 vaccinations for refugees, reports UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Raia Alkabasi, an Iraqi refugee living in the northern city of Irbid, was the first UNHCR-registered refugee in the country to receive the vaccine at the Irbid Vaccination Clinic.
Jordan’s Ministry of Health is administering the vaccinations.
“Once again Jordan has shown exemplary leadership and solidarity in hosting refugees. The country has included refugees in every aspect of the public health response to the pandemic, including the national vaccination campaign, proving how it should be done if we are to keep everyone safe,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“I appeal to all countries to follow suit and include refugees in their vaccination drives on par with nationals and in line with COVAX allocation principles.”
National authorities are responsible for public health responses and Covid-19 vaccination programs.
“UNHCR is aware that of the 90 countries currently developing national COVID-19 vaccination strategies, 51 – or 57 per cent – have committed to include refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. in a statement.
“The vast majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries. The international community must do more to support host governments with access to the vaccines. Global and equitable access is what will ultimately protect lives and stem the pandemic,” Grandi added.
As part of Jordan’s national Covid vaccination plan, which began this week, anyone living in the country, including refugees and asylum seekers, is entitled to receive the vaccine free of charge.
“Close cooperation between UNHCR and the Government of Jordan and the Ministry of Health, as well as the strong adherence of refugees to prevention measures, has been key in limiting the spread of the virus among these vulnerable populations,” said Grandi.
Since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed among refugees in Jordan in September 2020, 1,928 refugees living in refugee camps have tested positive for the virus.
The proportion of refugees with Covid has also remained low, at 1.6 per cent, compared to three per cent among the general Jordanian population.
While UNHCR is not procuring vaccinations – as this remains the prerogative and responsibility of governments – it is supporting refugee host countries through other COVID-preparedness and response interventions. Among these are critical health, sanitation, hygiene and logistical support as well as personal protective equipment.
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