Covid-19 vaccine inequity is high in conflict zones, says ICRC

Geneva, Dec 21 (EFE).- In conflict zones all over the world, civilians are highly affected by coronavirus vaccine inequity, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday.

Less than 9% of the population in each country suffering major armed conflict has received one vaccine dose, compared to an average of 60% vaccine coverage in the rest of the world, according to ICRC estimates.

Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC regional director for the Near and Middle East, said that only 2% of the population in war-ravished Yemen, and about 5% in Syria, which has been mired in an uprising and devastating civil war since 2011, have been inoculated with at least the first dose.

The ICRC said that an estimate of some 100 million people live in areas that are under full or partial control of irregular armed groups, leaving them out of vaccination programs organized by the health ministries.

The humanitarian organization, however, manages in certain cases to facilitate vaccination in areas close to battlefields through the neutral contacts it maintains with the warring sides, in addition to providing the means of transportation, logistics and cold chain necessary to preserve vaccines.

Carboni explains that efforts have been made to find a political solution for certain conflicts in the region but these initiatives have not changed the serious situation populations are experiencing such as the case in Yemen that is on the brink of famine.

The war that broke out in 2015 between Houthi rebels – who overthrew the government – and a Saudi-led Arab coalition devastated the Middle East’s poorest country, where some 80% of the people are in need of humanitarian aid.

“Two thirds of all districts are pre-famine,” Carboni said.

In Syria, Carboni stressed how serious the situation is for the approximately 60,000 residents of al-Hol camp for displaced people in the northeastern part of the country. The majority of them are under the age of 12 and many have been separated from their families and transferred to other camps.

“Conditions in the camp are harsh for all, children and adults. Families have been separated during transfers to other camps or places of detention, including separating children from their mothers,” Carboni explained.

“Children in detention should be either reunited with their families in camps, repatriated alongside them, or have alternative care arrangements made for them. Seriously ill people should be given priority for repatriation,” he continued.

The Palestinian territory of Gaza, where Israel has imposed a blockade since 2007, and Lebanon that is struggling amid a severe economic crisis were also included in the ICRC’s list. EFE


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