Woman receives a vaccine by a nurse.

Aisha Al-Hunity, 75, a Syrian refugee from Zaatari Camp, receives her COVID-19 vaccine at the Department of Chest Infection Health Clinic in Mafraq, Jordan. ©UNHCR/ Shawkat Alharfosh

UNHCR’s ongoing response to the once-in-a-century health crisis.

Jordan achieved a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 becoming one of the world’s first countries to start COVID-19 vaccinations for refugees. UNHCR is hopeful other nations will follow their example.

As Canada and countries around the world roll out COVID-19 immunization programs, UNHCR is squarely focused on ensuring forcibly displaced people are included in national vaccination efforts. UNHCR has been advocating for equal inclusion of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in national vaccination plans through the COVAX Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines eventually reach those in greatest need.


“The vast majority of the world’s refugees are hosted in low and middle income countries,” says UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “Global and equitable access is what will ultimately protect lives and stem the pandemic.”

While the responsibility of procuring vaccinations lies with governments, UNHCR continues to support refugee host countries with critical health, sanitation, hygiene and logistical support, as well as personal protective equipment.

Thailand. COVID-19 prevention on the Thai-Myanmar border
Thailand is home to 93,000 refugees from Myanmar living in government-run shelters. As part of COVID-19 prevention efforts, UNHCR procured and distributed 94,000 cloth face masks to Rohingya refugees living in temporary shelters on the Thai-Myanmar border. © UNHCR/Duean Wongsa
Colombia. Hygiene kits distribution
UNHCR distributed hygiene kits in the Brisas del Norte community in the Colombian department of La Guajira. The effort is supported by community leaders who help by distributing the kits and prevention messages against the spread of COVID-19. © UNHCR
Ecuador. COVID-19 tests carried out at women’s shelter
Ecuador is one of the Latin American countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. UNHCR has helped to promote COVID-19 tests at women’s shelters across Ecuador. © UNHCR/Santiago Arcos Veintimilla
Ukraine. UNHCR and WHO join forces to raise awareness of COVID-19 prevention
In Donetsk, Ukraine, UNHCR and partners have provided information on how to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19, to support and assist communities living in areas on the non-government controlled side of the contact line. © UNHCR


UNHCR will also support with trained staff and facilities for vaccine administration, and communication with communities to promote health messaging.

Eighty-five per cent of refugees per cent of refugees are hosted in low and middle income countries, where health systems are already overwhelmed and under-capacitated, and another wave of the pandemic is underway across many parts of the world.



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