Refugees were pushed behind the line amid a shortage of vaccines

New Delhi – Rohingya refugee Salimra has lived in New Delhi, the capital of India, since she fled violence in Myanmar in 2013. A stateless, 35-year-old woman who became homeless after a fire destroyed a camp lives in a tent with as many as 10 people at a time.

Prior to the pandemic, he ran a small business that sold groceries from the hut. But it was closed during India’s severe, months-long blockade, and his savings were gone. He and his family survive on the donated food, but he must return to work immediately, despite the risk of being infected with COVID-19 and infecting others.

Some refugees in India have begun vaccination, but no one in his camp has received a shot. Over 7% of India’s population is fully vaccinated, and vaccination shortages plague about 1.4 billion countries.

“The disease is not discriminatory. If we get infected, the locals will get infected,” said Salimra.

it was not supposed to be like this.


For months, the World Health Organization has urged countries to prioritize refugee immunity and put them in the second-priority group for endangered people, alongside refugees in critical health. ..

Sajad Malik, director of resilience and solutions at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said refugees inevitably live in crowded conditions where the virus is prone to spread and use even the most basic medical care and clean water. He said it was because he couldn’t.

“They live in a really difficult situation,” he said.

More than 160 countries have included refugees in their plans, but these have been overturned by supply shortages. According to WHO, about 85% of vaccines are given by developed countries. In contrast, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 85% of the world’s 26 million refugees live in developing countries, where even the most vulnerable people struggle with vaccination.


Some countries, such as Bangladesh, are looking forward to COVAX, a global initiative aimed at vaccine equity. In February, the original immunization plan was changed to include nearly one million Rohingya refugees in a crowded camp on the Myanmar border. However, so far, the dose received from the COVAX has been only 100,620, less than 1% of the assigned shots, which Rohingya refugees lack.

COVAX has not only declined in Bangladesh. Globally, this initiative offers less than 8% of the 2 billion vaccine doses promised by the end of this year.

Supplies remain a problem, even in countries where refugee vaccinations have begun. In Uganda’s Bidi Bidi camp, less than 2% of 200,000 refugees receive a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second dose after India stopped exporting after its case exploded. Is missing.

Other obstacles, from language barriers to false information about vaccines, exacerbate the problem. South Sudanese refugee and Bidi Bidi teacher Thomas Mariamung said he overcame the fear of taking the first shot for the first time after being mandated by the teacher.


“Based on rumors on the ground, I didn’t want it,” he said.

In some countries, such as India, documents such as passports and other government IDs were initially required, but many refugees lack vaccination registration. Online registration was also a barrier for many who did not have access to the internet.

India began vaccination of people in January. After four months, the documentation requirements were relaxed. The Chin community in New Delhi, a minority of Christians fleeing violence in Myanmar, began firing in June. By that time, India’s huge surge had already broken through their crowded settlements and the entire family became ill and died.

James Fanay, chairman of the Chin Refugee Commission in Delhi, said the city’s health system had collapsed, refugees struggled to secure beds, and private hospitals were charging about $ 4,000 in a few days. “It was almost impossible to get oxygen,” he said.


Miriam Aria Prieto, Doctors Without Borders Vaccination and Outbreak Response Advisor, said registration initiatives like volunteers going to camp to help refugees register for vaccines have sometimes leveled off. Stated.

“Many live with relatives rather than in camps,” she said, focusing on the refugee population of Jordan and Lebanon.

Due to the temporary nature of some refugee populations, some European countries are focusing on using Johnson & Johnson’s single vaccine for refugees. Prieto said Spain is waiting for these vaccines to arrive. Greece began a drive for people living in immigrant camps and shelters in early June using Johnson & Johnson shots.

Refugees are being attacked in EU countries, but the situation is even worse in other parts of the continent, said Frido Herinckx, COVID-19 Operations Manager, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ European Regional Office. Stated. For example, only about 1.5% of Armenian people and 4.2% of Ukraine are fully vaccinated.


In some countries, such as Montenegro, the fear of arrest and deportation remains an obstacle, and Red Cross volunteers accompany migrants, including refugees, to assist in firing while preventing them from being arrested. Said.

“So (that’s) keeping that firewall … between border guards and medical services,” he said.

However, even with increased vaccine supply, there are liability issues. The question is who will be responsible for the rare cases of serious side effects of the vaccine.

Humanitarian organizations can apply for vaccine distribution under a humanitarian buffer. This is the emergency mechanism that COVAX has set up as a last resort. But doing so also means accepting responsibility for serious side effects.

Prieto said Doctors Without Borders is trying to get the vaccine from the manufacturer but doesn’t want to take responsibility. Many vaccine manufacturers refuse to ink the vaccine trade or ship the vaccine without its provisions.


Another obstacle is that vaccines green-lighted by WHO may not yet be approved by the host country, creating a discrepancy between available and available vaccines.

“We are at this strange stage with approved drugs, but no one wants to take responsibility,” she said.

As the virus continues to spread, the challenges faced by vaccination of refugee populations around the world can be devastating to host communities.

“The virus does not distinguish between the people and refugees, so if we do not protect and save the refugee population, it will be a public health problem,” Malik said.


Mirko reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. AP journalists Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda and Elena Becatoros in Athens, Greece contributed to this report.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Refugees were pushed behind the line amid a shortage of vaccines

Source link Refugees were pushed behind the line amid a shortage of vaccines

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