AFRICA - JRS calls for equity in vaccine distribution

Tuesday, 9 March 2021 refugees   displaced persons   coronavirus   jesuits  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "Equal access to vaccinations is necessary to ensure public health for all in society. We cannot heal and move forward until all of us, including forcibly displaced people, are vaccinated", Fr. Thomas H Smolich, S.J, Jesuit Refugee Service International Director, in a report by the humanitarian organization promoted by the Jesuits, through which is launched an appeal not to forget anyone in the vaccination plans against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report stresses that "the dignity of each human person must be the guiding principle for global and national vaccination efforts". JRS, which works for displaced persons and refugees in 56 countries around the world – including 15 on the African continent - recalls Pope Francis' appeal to government leaders, business, and international organizations to foster "cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone" rather than "letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity".The Holy Father has pointedly insisted on the need for "vaccines for all, especially...the most vulnerable and needy of all regions". (from the Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message 2020).
"His argument has not fallen on deaf ears", says JRS because "the World Health Organization is encouraging equitable vaccine distribution through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, which includes special provisions for refugees".
The JRS report sheds light and shadows on the situation, while "Angola, Colombia and South Africa are making plans that exclude or severely restrict the access of refugees to vaccination, Jordan has made a commitment that anyone on Jordanian soil can register and will receive the vaccine free of charge".
JRS further draws attention to the fact that access to the vaccine is not enough because "many forcibly displaced people live without legal status, and their fears of being detained and deported through participation in vaccination programs must be addressed".
"The vaccine brings hope to end the pandemic's suffering, and JRS affirms that everyone is entitled to share in that hope", the report concluded.
According to statistics from the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) there are 80 million people displaced by violence in the world (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/3/2021)