ISLAMABAD,May 2021: The Government of Pakistan started to vaccinate Afghan refugees as part of its COVID-19 vaccination program, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency welcomed Tuesday the Government of Pakistan’s efforts.
In some parts of the country, Afghan refugees who meet the criteria for receiving a vaccine have already started to register themselves. More than 10 refugees so far have received the first dose of the vaccine.
The National Command and Operation Centre – the body responsible for Pakistan’s COVID-19 response – approved the inclusion of foreigners, including Afghan refugees with Proof of Registration Cards (PoR) cards, in its vaccination program. Afghan refugees are being vaccinated based on the same criteria applied for Pakistan’s citizens.
In welcoming the first vaccinations for refugees, Noriko Yoshida, UNHCR’s representative in Pakistan, said that It was very important that Pakistan has taken this positive step of including Afghan refugees in its vaccination efforts.
“The virus doesn’t recognize whether a person is a refugee or a citizen. It poses an equal threat for all. Nobody is safe until we are all safe,” said Noriko Yoshida.
Yoshida said, “UNHCR stands in solidarity with Pakistan and refugees. We continue to highlight the need for the international community to support Pakistan and communities around the country that generously host refugees and share vital services with them.”
UNHCR was working closely with the Ministry of Health as part of a Technical Working Group to raise awareness among refugees about the vaccine, alongside representatives of the Ministry for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), UNICEF and WHO.
In an effort to support Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19, UNHCR has provided 23 fully equipped ambulances to different provincial authorities in Pakistan, as well housing units for use as isolation facilities, and water, sanitation and hygiene projects to boost prevention measures.
A cold chain facility constructed by UNHCR also now supported the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations, benefiting both host communities and refugees alike. Contributions of critical personal protective equipment continue to be supplied to health facilities that are serving refugees and host communities.