If you are not a citizen where you live, for whatever reason, you will likely be low down on the vaccination list.
If you are stateless, have migrated to another country or are a refugee due for security or political reasons, you know how it feels to live in a state without full legal rights.
During a deadly pandemic, things could get even worse for migrants and refugees living in camps or living rough with little access to adequate medical facilities.
“It can’t be allowed to be the case that these people are treated as second class citizens when it comes to being vaccinated,” says Boris Breyer, the spokesperson for the German NGO SOS Kinderdörfer Weltweit (SOS Child Villages Worldwide).
Breyer warned that it’s not just a human rights issue but also a global health problem. Unvaccinated migrants and refugees pose threats to not only their own health but also others as Covid-19 continues to hit the world with a succession of concerning new variants.
“We cannot leave them alone with this problem. It is even more important now than ever to realize that the situation of displaced people affects us all. This problem should be tackled together by the international community,” noted Breyer.
“It is only when everyone is vaccinated that we will be able to effectively fight the coronavirus pandemic,” he added.
Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), also drew attention to the same problem in a recent interview.
“It’s in the interest of refugees — this is a lifesaving intervention, having the vaccines, having treatment. But at the same time, it’s in the country’s interest to make sure that there’s no one on their territory that is unprotected and exposed because that will then hamper progress made in combating the virus and stopping the pandemic,” Mantoo said.
“No one is protected unless everyone is protected,” she added.
The UNHCR is currently leading a worldwide effort “to ensure that some 80 million forcibly displaced people in more than 100 countries are included in rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, among them 29.6 million refugees.”