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First refugee COVID-19 vaccinations commence in Jordan

By JT - Jan 14,2021 - Last updated at Jan 14,2021

AMMAN — Jordan has become one of the world's first countries to start vaccinations for UNHCR-registered refugees, according to an UNHCR statement sent to The Jordan Times.

As part of the national COVID-19 vaccination plan which started this week, anyone living on Jordanian soil, including refugees and asylum seekers, is entitled to receive the vaccine free of charge. Over the coming months, Jordan aims to vaccinate 20 per cent of its population against the virus and has currently procured three million doses of the vaccine to enable this to happen, said the statement.

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 on Thursday, with 43 refugees from the camp travelling to the Department of Chest Infection, health clinic in Mafraq, some 80 kilometres northeast of Amman, to receive it. Jordan’s Ministry of Health is administering the vaccinations, read the statement.

The inclusion of refugees within the national vaccination campaign builds on this premise as well as the years of experience in hosting refugees, ensuring their health and wellbeing after fleeing conflict.

“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 per cent 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, said the statement.


Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed among refugees in Jordan in September 2020, a total of 1,992 refugees living in refugee camps have tested positive for the virus.


Despite this, there are currently only 194 active cases representing an 88 per cent recovery rate. The proportion of refugees with COVID-19 has also remained low at 1.6 per cent compared with 3 per cent among the general Jordanian population.


Over 200,000 people have enrolled on the national platform, UNHCR is currently aware of 53 refugees who have already received vaccination appointments, according to the statement.


With the start of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, however, the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on refugees continues to be of primary concern to UNHCR. It is estimated that poverty rates among refugees have increased by 18 per cent since March 2020, with refugees consistently telling UNHCR that they are struggling to meet their basic needs.


Two-thirds say they are unable to afford sufficient food and 60 per cent have resorted to borrowing money.


In 2021, UNHCR Jordan is appealing for $370 million to help refugees, including to cope with the additional challenges posed by the pandemic, concluded the statement.




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