I wrote a story about the dire situation of Afghan refugees a few days ago. Here is a follow-up on that.
I mentioned that how the rise of the Taliban will lead to new waves of refugees.
Iran is one of the destinations of these new waves. And I argued that how the current situation of the Iranian health system and the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Iran could affect these refugees’ camps.
One of the main concerns is the lack of vaccinations among Afghan refugees and the poor situation of vaccinations inside Iran.
Yesterday one of the spokespersons of the Iranian Ministry of Interior announced that despite preliminary reports – which I had mentioned in my previous story – Iran would not set up new refugees’ camps in the borders.
This is clearly a setback. Lack of the camps doesn’t mean that these waves of refugees won’t happen, and desperate people won’t flee their homes. It only means they must deal with a higher risk in regards to their security and their health.
The fear of that these clusters of refugees suffer from vast outbreaks. This situation only makes the necessity of vaccination more urgent.
I asked the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, the COVAX project manager, about this situation and the role that COVAX can play to help this crisis.
One of the spokespersons of GAVI responded to my inquiry as follow:
“COVAX has so far shipped over 4 million doses to Afghanistan. Our priority today is to work with UNICEF and WHO country offices and partners like IFRC and ARCS to ensure our ability to continue the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program as well as other routine immunization activities.”
“In addition, the COVAX Facility maintains a buffer of doses for humanitarian and contingency use, including to address severe outbreaks. This buffer is intended as a provision of last resort for when government-led processes fail to reach everyone, for example, to protect people living in non-government-controlled areas.”
You can find more about this humanitarian buffer here.
I am trying to follow this story and will post any updates available.