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ICRC, Iran’s Red Crescent announce joint effort to vaccinate Afghan migrants

An Iranian health worker inoculates a man against the coronavirus.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) have announced joint measures to vaccinate Afghan migrants living in Iran against the new coronavirus infection as the country boosts efforts made to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a joint press release on Sunday, the two humanitarian bodies announced they have launched a plan to vaccinate up to 125,000 Afghan migrants as well as Iranian nationals against COVID-19 in eastern provinces of Iran as part of a partnership between the ICRC and the ICRC.

The initiative requires a total of 250,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to fully immunize 125,000 people in target groups against the new coronavirus infection.

During the ceremony held to announce the initiative, Mansoureh Bagheri, the IRCS’s Under-Secretary General for International Affairs and International Humanitarian Law thanked the ICRC, saying, “This is a very welcome donation from our long-standing partner the ICRC on such an important humanitarian issue.”

“The purchased vaccines as the result of this donation will be used to vaccinate 125,000 individuals, both migrants and members of host communities, in the four eastern provinces of Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan, Sistan and Baluchistan, and Kerman,” she explained

Iran has been fighting one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks since the virus emerged in the country in early 2020. So far, over 6,150,000 people have tested positive for the highly infectious disease in Iran, with 130,722 deaths reported.

Iran hosts about 3.6 million displaced Afghan migrants. During the last months, Iran has managed to step up its vaccination campaign with around 83% of the target population now fully vaccinated.

According to the latest statistics published by Iran’s Health Ministry on Sunday, nearly 50 million people — out of the target population of 60 million — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while the total number of vaccines injected has exceeded 110 million.

“In order to maximize the safety of the whole community, it is crucial that migrants present in Iran – regardless of their legal immigration status – are also included in the national COVID-19 vaccination plan,” the joint statement said.

Johannes Bruwer, the head of the ICRC delegation in Iran, stressed that equitable access to the vaccine is vital in the efforts to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The involvement of the IRCS in this process is particularly pertinent, as a successful campaign requires community-level delivery and social mobilization to ensure community buy-in and acceptance,” Bruwer said.

“The Iranian health authorities and the IRCS are making massive strides on the national vaccination plan, and we are happy to be able to support this effort,” he added.

The IRCS is a member of Iran’s National COVID-19 Task Force and has been actively supporting the Health Ministry’s endeavors in countering the pandemic in the country through various activities including prevention, screening, treatment, and vaccination.

According to the joint statement, the ICRC continues to work with organizations and authorities across Iran to provide humanitarian assistance and support for those in need, including migrants.

“The above financial donation is a gesture of solidarity with the IRCS and a part of the larger Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's humanitarian action in responding to humanitarian needs across Iran, including those of Afghan migrants,” it added.

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