By Lynn Al Nasser
This Ramadan, as countries around the world rollout COVID-19 vaccination programs, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, continues its focus on ensuring that forcibly displaced people are included in national vaccination efforts. Life is unpredictable, and every second can bring a new challenge or opportunity. For people around the world, it takes only seconds for a family to lose everything and be forced to search for safety. The threat of COVID-19 has only worsened the troubles of displaced families over the past year–even more so, during Ramadan.
To help protect some of the most vulnerable, UNHCR has been advocating for equal inclusion of refugees in national vaccination plans through the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need.
“The vast majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries…Global and equitable access is what will ultimately protect lives and stem the pandemic.” – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi
As of January 2021, Jordan achieved a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 becoming one of the world’s first countries to start vaccinations for refugees. Rwanda, Serbia, and Greece shortly followed, and UNHCR is hopeful other nations will do so as well.
While the responsibility of procuring vaccinations lies with governments and national authorities, UNHCR continues to support refugee host countries with critical health, sanitation, hygiene and logistical support, as well as personal protective equipment.
The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn across many countries hosting refugees only exacerbated the extreme poverty and hardship faced by already vulnerable families, driving more and more refugees to rely on UNHCR’s humanitarian assistance.
It took seconds for the lives of refugee families to change forever; it takes seconds to make the choice to help those who need it the most. In these uncertain times, we ask that you choose kindness this Ramadan and help us provide for refugees and their families so that they too can celebrate Eid with a sense of hope. The choices you make can have a huge impact on those most vulnerable, and every second counts.
Ramadan is here, bringing communities together again and reminding everyone of all the blessings we can share. Today, you can make the choice to share the blessings of the Holy Month with a refugee family who has lost everything.
Originally published on Medium on 13 April 2021