Published: 2021-01-14 11:58
Last Updated: 2021-01-14 13:04
Jordan has become one of the world's first countries to start vaccinations for UNHCR-registered refugees, the UN Refugee Agency said Thursday. As part of the national COVID-19 vaccination plan which started this week, all citizens and residents of Jordan, including refugees and asylum seekers, are entitled to receive the vaccine free of charge.
Over the coming months, Jordan aims to vaccinate 20 percent of its population against the virus and has currently procured three million doses of the vaccine to enable this to happen.
Raia AlKabasi, an Iraqi refugee living in Irbid, will be among the first refugees to receive the vaccine.
“We just want life to be back to normal. The vaccine is the right way of doing this,” she said.
Vaccinations of refugees from Zaatari Camp also started Thursday, with 43 refugees from the camp in Mafraq receiving the vaccine.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees have been included by the government of Jordan within the national response plan, able to access health care and medical treatment as any Jordanian citizens can.
“Jordan has included refugees in its national response plan since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR’s Representative to Jordan.
“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 now necessitates that the most vulnerable people in our society and around the world can access vaccines, no matter where they come from. It is with great pride that UNHCR is contributing to the efforts of the Government of Jordan to achieve this,” he added.
Refugees living in urban areas – who represent 80 percent of the refugee population in Jordan - will be able to receive the vaccine at their local health clinic. For those living in the two main refugee camps, UNHCR is working closely with the Ministry of Health to administer the vaccination.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed among refugees in Jordan in Sep. 1, 992 refugees living in refugee camps have tested positive for the virus. However, there are currently only 194 active cases representing an 88 percent recovery rate.
The proportion of refugees with COVID-19 has also remained low at 1.6 percent compared to three percent among the general Jordanian population.
Close cooperation between UNHCR and the Government of Jordan and Ministry of Health as well as the strong adherence of refugees to prevention measures, has been key limiting the spread of the virus among these vulnerable populations.
Over 200,000 people have enrolled on the national platform vaccine.jo.
UNHCR is currently aware of 53 refugees who have already received vaccination appointments.
However, the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on refugees continues to be of primary concern to UNHCR. It is estimated that poverty among refugees has increased by 18 percent since March 2020.