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Countries must vaccinate displaced people, IOM and WHO say

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By Thomas Blade
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Countries must vaccinate displaced people, IOM and WHO say
Copyright  Panagiotis Balaskas/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The pandemic has left migrants in an even more vulnerable situation than before.

Ahead of the International Migrants Day on Saturday, the International Organisation for Migration, or IOM, and WHO warned that migrants are not part of COVID-19 vaccination plans in many countries.

Director of IOM’s Migration Health Division Jacqueline Weekers said that "according to IOM’s analysis of 180 countries, migrants cannot get the jab in at least 45 countries.”

"Equitable access to health services remains insufficient, and stigma, discrimination against migrants widespread -- as evidenced by the media reports following the discovery of the Omicron variant,” Weekers stated.

Given the number of migrants worldwide, the lack of access to vaccines means the battle against coronavirus might never end.

Santino Severoni, director of WHO’s Health and Migration Program, added that “today, one out of thirty people are migrants, one out of ninety-five are forcibly displaced." 

"We are concerned about roughly one billion people -- between migrants, refugees, irregular migrants, and IDPs -- who may be without access to health systems,” he said.

Both organisations call nations to break down administrative, logistical, geographic, cultural, linguistic, or financial barriers that make migrants out of reach of vaccination.