The covid does not forget the refugees

The world is still experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, although many seem to have forgotten it, beset by the health emergency of the covid. But, paradoxically, the person who has not and will not forget the people forced into exodus is the covid itself. Two simple percentages sum up the magnitude of the drama …

According the Spanish committee of Acnur, the UN refugee agency, 86% of refugees live in developing countries with very limited health systems. Yet only 57% of countries with coronavirus vaccination plans include refugees. For this reason, this institution works so that the 80 million forcibly displaced persons in the world also receive treatment.

The UN needs about 375 million euros for the emergencies caused by the pandemic among the displaced

The work of these and other entities have contributed to small great miracles such as that of Jordan, with 750,000 refugees, although the real figure may be much higher. Amnesty International assures that only 655,000 Syrians have fled to this country. To that number must be added hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and “87,000 people of other nationalities.”

When the political scientist Sami Naïr published Refugees In 2016, the five most refugee-hosting countries were Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia. The sixth was not European either: Jordan, where de facto or de jure refugees were already 10% of the population by then.

The list remains practically unchanged. That is why the Jordanian example of vaccines is so important. “The country has included refugees in the national vaccination campaign, indicating what we have to do if we want to keep everyone safe,” says Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

No one can be left out of the fight. Unhcr supports initiatives in favor of refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless populations and asylum seekers. It does not purchase vaccines (it cannot: it is the prerogative of the governments), but it collaborates with other sanitary and logistical measures with the host countries, such as the installation of field hospitals and the provision of protective equipment.

An Unhcr health worker in Irbid, Jordan


If living conditions in many settlements were already dire before the COVID crisis, the virus has complicated everything. “With millions of people in extreme situations and facing a disastrous socio-economic impact from the pandemic, we need about 375 million euros to cover exceptional needs,” says UNHCR.

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Ziad Al Kabashi and his wife, Raia, are an Iraqi refugee couple who have lived in Jordan since 2006, when they fled the Iraq war. Unhcr considers them two of the first refugees to have officially received the vaccine. Originally from Baghdad, both received the Sinopharm model, developed in China, a month ago.

The couple got priority treatment for Ziad’s chronic illnesses, which place him among high-risk patients. The authorities also took into account that such a couple would be an excellent example among their community. Nobody better than Ziad and Zania to eliminate possible reluctance towards the vaccine (and to reflect the drama of exile). He is a doctor; she, a pharmacist.

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