COVID-19: JORDAN BECOMES FIRST COUNTRY TO VACCINATE REFUGEES
According to the UN, Jordan became the first country to include UN registered refugees in its COVID vaccination plan. Iraqi refugee Raia Alkabasi was the first refugee to receive the vaccine, administered by the Jordan Ministry of Health. According to the UNHCR, out of the 90 countries currently developing vaccines, 51 of them have committed to including refugees in the distribution. Jordan has included refugees in its COVID response plan since March. The infection rate among refugees in Jordan has remained at around 1.6%, which is lower than the 3% rate among the general population. Following the recommendation to vaccinate more at-risk populations first, refugees that are older, immune-compromised, or those that have underlying health conditions will be vaccinated as part of the initial rollout. According to the UNHCR: “Ensuring that refugees are included in the vaccine rollout is key to ending the pandemic. Excluding refugees, other displaced people, or non-nationals from vaccination plans carries the risk of ongoing transmission in these populations, with spill-overs into the national population.” Jordan hosts refugees from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, among other nations, with 80% of them living in urban areas where the risk of the virus spreading is greater. The Jordan UNHCR is campaigning for $370 million in additional funding for refugee support due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. “Once again Jordan has shown exemplary leadership and solidarity in hosting refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “The country has included refugees in every aspect of the public health response to the pandemic, including the national vaccination campaign, proving how it should be done if we are to keep everyone safe,” he concluded.
From a Christian perspective, Jordan is a Muslim-majority nation, where less than five per cent of Jordan’s population identify as Christians, yet Jordan is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to refugee care. The UNHCR works with the Jordan government, along with groups like Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD), to ensure that displaced people are treated with equal consideration to Jordan nationals. These groups exhibit biblical principles like showing compassion, providing aid to the poor, and looking after the “resident alien.” Whether they do so with the intent of spreading the love of Christ or not, the Lord is working through them to provide hope to the refugees. The UNHCR praised Jordan for its inclusion of refugees in their pandemic healthcare plan, as did Syrian refugees who received the vaccine in the Zaatari refugee camp. In an interview with a French media source, Syrian refugee Hussein Mohammad praised Jordan for treating refugees with equality and dignity, saying the opportunity to be vaccinated as a refugee is “a gift from God.” Jordan’s treatment of refugees should be an example to other nations – and particularly those with Christian majorities – to pursue a Christ-like attitude in caring for the “least of these”. Sometimes the Lord’s provision comes from unexpected places, and for the refugees in Jordan, it is coming from a secular health service in a Muslim-majority country.
Pray with us for the following:
- For other nations to follow Jordan’s example of treating refugees with compassion
- For believers working in Jordan’s refugee communities, as they share the Gospel while also offering practical assistance
- For the Church to seize the opportunity of serving the ‘least of these’ in their immediate communities, and to the ends of the earth
Image: Barrons/Khalil Mazraawi