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Refugees Least Covered in COVID-19 Vaccination-Report

The analysis which was conducted amongst eight countries, including Uganda warns that COVID-19 is now surging in lower-income countries that do not have the resources needed to contain the virus and protect their populations.
Refugees and internally displaced people are the lowest priority group considered for vaccination, a new report by World Vision notes. 

The analysis which was conducted amongst eight countries, including Uganda warns that COVID-19 is now surging in lower-income countries that do not have the resources needed to contain the virus and protect their populations.

Despite identifying refugees as a priority group who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, Uganda is among the nations struggling to climb the vaccination ladder and whose health systems are now overwhelmed due to another wave of the pandemic. With just about 800,000 of its citizens vaccinated, the country is still constrained to cover the 1.4 million refugees.

Only one refugee out of 1,914 surveyed in Uganda, Brazil, Colombia, DRC, Jordan, Peru, Turkey and Venezuela had received a COVID-19 vaccine, yet almost half of them say they are willing to take the vaccine if it is availed to them.

“With less than 1% of Ugandans vaccinated, it is a challenge to reach the refugees, but an extra effort must be made to prioritise the refugees because they face the highest risk from COVID-19 especially given the confined space they live in and the communal facilities they share,” says Mary Njeri, the Refugee Response Director at World Vision Uganda in a statement released on Thursday.

“Almost 60% of the refugees in Uganda are children. Many have been separated from family and are at risk of violations including child trafficking, forced labour, and forced marriage. We must act now and commit to protecting them, and the equitable distribution of vaccines is one way to protect these vulnerable children,” she adds.

Higher-income countries are vaccinating their populations 25 times faster than nations with the lowest incomes and have ensured that their own most vulnerable people are protected. World Vision says they must now secure the same protection for the world’s most vulnerable.

The survey indicates that 68% of the respondents had not even heard of plans for vaccinations in their communities and yet 47% thought they were not eligible or did not know they were.

“COVID-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the world’s most vulnerable, including refugees. We urge the world to act now and commit to protecting them from the virus. They are survivors who deserve to be allowed to recover and rebuild their lives,” Njeri says.

Last week at the G7, world leaders pledged to donate about 800 million n COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable and yet other countries too have been making donations to developing countries since the World Health Organization, GAVI, UNICEF and other partners in the COVAX facility issued a call to countries to donate. 

 Now, World Vision calls upon donor governments to ensure that this pledge turns into a reality and to secure equitable access to the vaccine for forcibly displaced people as a priority.

Despite more than 190 countries committing to COVAX, an initiative that aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses for at least 20% of the most vulnerable and high risk groups by the end of 2021, deliveries are both underfunded and delayed.

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