As vaccine roll-outs are bringing back hope that the end of the pandemic might be in sight, too many migrants remain excluded from national deployment and vaccination plans (NDVPs). Although the number of vaccinations globally has overtaken reported COVID-19 infections, only a quarter of NDVPs submitted to the COVAX Facility include migrants.
The United Nations Network on Migration calls on States to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to vaccines for all and the inclusion of migrants, regardless of their status, in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes and other public health interventions.
Affordable, non-discriminatory access to vaccines is a human right. For everyone to be safe, governments must particularly ensure the vaccination of all high-risk individuals, including migrants in vulnerable situations, within their territories, and base vaccine eligibility and prioritization on public health considerations without discrimination.
Migrants in irregular situations are particularly at risk of being left behind. States must ensure that firewalls are erected between health service providers and immigration authorities to ensure their safe access to vaccines and other essential health services. Excluding them or other non-nationals from COVID-19 vaccination plans and programmes carries the risk of transmission in these communities, with spillovers into the entire population.
COVID-19 has exacerbated gaps not only within but also between countries and has highlighted the urgent need for international cooperation by States and all actors to tackle the pandemic in a spirit of global solidarity and shared responsibility. Vaccines should be allocated fairly and equitably and considered global common goods, not marketable commodities. Isolationist health policies anywhere will only continue to pose a threat everywhere.
In this vein, a vast majority of States have joined the COVAX Facility to maximize the quick, safe and fair chances of people in participating countries getting access to COVID-19 vaccines, ensuring that income is not a barrier to access. If used correctly, the equitable distribution of vaccines could help stop the acute phase of the pandemic, support faster, fairer and more equitable social and economic recovery and help us stay on track to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.
Pursuant to the commitments outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieving universal health coverage and in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in which States committed to incorporate the health needs of migrants into healthcare policies and plans and provide affordable and non-discriminatory access to basic services, the Network calls on governments to make every effort to address and reduce vulnerabilities faced by migrants by:
- guaranteeing migrants’ inclusion in national vaccination plans and programmes and their equitable and affordable access to vaccines and treatments;
- ensuring that migrants, regardless of their status, can access COVID-19 vaccines without fear or risk of deportation, immigration detention or other penalties as result of migration status;
- mitigating potential cultural, linguistic or other barriers to migrants’ accessing services and vaccines; and,
- increasing efforts to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, allowing migrants anywhere to protect themselves and their communities.
Striving for equity in vaccine access should be a guiding principle for all countries to protect their population adequately. Only by building equal and inclusive societies that will be resilient in the face of future pandemics, and protecting everyone’s right to health, will we build forward better for all of us.
The virus knows no borders or nationality; neither should our solidarity.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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