In a partnership with UNHCR and WHO, Egypt has speeded up Covid-19 vaccination of asylum seekers and refugees, according to UNHCR officials.
A refugee from Syria called Refaat Ziadeh, 59, never thought he would be one of the first refugees who are allowed to receive the COVID vaccine in Egypt, but as the country started vaccine rollout nationwide earlier this year, refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR have been included in the Government’s national response plan.
This could save more than 250 thousand refugees in the future, according to UNHCR. Responding to Egypt’s achievements in vaccinated several refugees like Ziadeh and others, Mr. Pablo Mateu, UNHCR Egypt Representative emphasized: “We are grateful to the Government of Egypt for their generosity in including refugees and asylum-seekers in the COVID national response plan, both healthcare and vaccination.”
According to the recent data released by UNHCR, more than 500 vaccinations took place at different medical centers and public hospitals across the Egyptian territory.
Ziadeh is one of those who have been assisted and received COVID vaccines in Egypt’s medical centers, following the Government’s plan to prioritize the elderly and individuals with chronic health conditions.
The Syrian refugee said: “I had not initially realized at first that my family is eligible to register to receive the vaccine using our UNHCR identification documents until one of the doctors at Caritas – [UNHCR implementing partner for primary healthcare] – informed me,”
Furthermore, Ziadeh explained that he have been very reluctant at first but a few weeks after he had recovered from a severe COVID infection that gravely affected his health and left him unemployed for a month, saying “I registered myself and my entire family – there was no way I would survive another infection.”
Only a few weeks went by before their appointment was confirmed and Ziadeh and his wife were greeted by a doctor at a vaccination center in their neighborhood who addressed their questions and dispelled many of the rumors spreading in their community. In less than 30 minutes, the couple had received their first inoculation free of charge.
To speed up the campaign, the Egyptian government is asking prefects and public regional health agencies to give priority to the “most effective” measures, allowing “in situ vaccination”, such as the deployment of mobile vaccination centers or mobile vaccination teams.
It’s worth mentioning that UNHCR is mandated by the Government of Egypt to register asylum-seekers and determine refugee status since 1954. By providing a UNHCR identification document, UNHCR ensures that refugees and asylum-seekers can access an array of rights, including access to residence permits, access to services, and protection against refoulement.