Jordan has started to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations to UN-registered refugees, making it one of the world's first countries to do so. The initiative is part of Jordan's nationwide vaccination drive launched last week and within which every citizen, refugee and asylum seeker is eligible, free of charge.
According to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the first batch of refugees were vaccinated last Thursday. Forty-three Iraqis and Syrians received their doses in the northern Jordanian towns of Irbid and Mafraq.
"There are many more who have signed up," UNHRC spokesman Francesco Burt told US government-funded broadcaster Voice of America. "There's a government portal where everybody needs to register. So far, about 250,000 people have signed up, including refugees."
The effectiveness of the programme, he added, really depends on the availability of doses. "The Jordanian government has about 3 million doses so far. It plans to cover about 25 per cent of the population in the coming months."
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflict areas in the Middle East such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza and Libya have settled in Jordan over the years, making them a significant demographic within the country. Approximately 80 per cent of those refugees live in urban areas, and are being vaccinated in local health clinics.
The UNHRC said that it is working closely with Jordan's Ministry of Health to provide and administer vaccines to Syrians who live in refugee camps such as Zaatari and Azraq. However, Amman and the UN have expressed the need for additional aid funding to reach their targets, with the UN agency reportedly calling for a further $370 million.