Planned exclusion of refugees from vaccination

The Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) is calling for equity in vaccine distribution. “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”, according to Fr Thomas H Smolich, SJ, Jesuit Refugee Service International Director, in a report by the humanitarian organization promoted by the Jesuits, through which it launched an appeal not to forget anyone in the vaccination plans against the Covid-19 pandemic. Fr Smolich was speaking to FIDES, the Vatican News Agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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 becauseImage by Pete Linforth from Pixabaymany 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.     (With thanks to Agenzia Fides, 9/3/2021)

For a view of the African Europe Faith and Justice Network on the topic of “What Drug Supply for Africa in a Pandemic Period? A Question that Concerns us all”  Click here