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HRW warns Lebanon may exclude refugees, migrants from COVID- 19 vaccination

Workers disinfect the Wavel camp (also known as the Jalil Camp) for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, on April 22, 2020 [AFP via Getty Images]
Workers disinfect the Wavel camp for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, on April 22, 2020 [AFP via Getty Images]

Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday that the Lebanese government's COVID-19 vaccination programme risks leaving behind marginalised communities, including refugees and migrant workers.

The rights watchdog said in a statement that the Lebanese government had promised an equitable vaccination programme, but "the effort has been tainted by political interference and a lack of information."

"With one in three people in Lebanon a refugee or migrant, a third of the population risks being left behind in the vaccination plan," said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The government needs to invest in targeted outreach to build trust with long-marginalised communities or the COVID-19 vaccination effort is doomed to fail," she added.

READ: Warnings of serious attempts to push Palestine refugees to leave Lebanon

The statement said UN data shows that Syrian and Palestinian refugees have died from COVID-19 at a rate more than four and three times the national average, respectively.

Yet, according to the government's online COVID-19 vaccine registration and tracking platform, only 2.86 per cent of those vaccinated and 5.36 per cent of those registered to receive vaccinations are non-Lebanese, even though they constitute at least 30 per cent of the population.

HRW criticised some Lebanese politicians without naming them saying they have secured vaccines for their supporters, raising fears that the distribution of vaccines will be based on political affiliation rather than transparent, evidence-based distribution criteria that apply equally to everyone in Lebanon, leaving marginalised groups behind.

Categories
CoronavirusHRWInternational OrganisationsLebanonMiddle EastNewsPalestineSyria
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