UN agency begins COVID vaccine rollout for 7,500 stranded migrants in Yemen

Geneva [Switzerland]: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has begun a COVID-19 vaccination campaign for migrants stranded in Yemen.
The goal is to inoculate around 7,500 people at its Migrant Response Points in Aden and Ma’rib. IOM’s Chief of Mission, Christa Rottensteiner, explained that “immunizing people on the move is key to combatting the spread of the disease.”
An estimated 36,000 migrants have been stranded on their journeys due to mobility restrictions, nearly 3,500 in Ma’rib alone. Many are sleeping in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions where the virus can easily spread.
“Vaccinating against COVID-19 is even more crucial in places like Ma’rib where ongoing conflict continues to weaken health facilities and disrupt the supply chain for medicines,” Rottensteiner said.
According to her, there are still not enough doses to protect everyone in Yemen from this disease.
“More support from the international community to supply the country with enough vaccines will save lives”, she said.
So far, the pandemic has had severe consequences for the health, well-being and income of people in Yemen. COVID-19 has compounded the multiple crises already raging due to the on going conflict which erupted in 2015, between rebel Houthi forces, together with their allies, and a Saudi-led coalition, that supports the internationally-recognized Government.
As of 12 December, there have been more than 10,000 cases reported in the country, but it’s difficult to assess the real impact because of limited testing and reporting.
Since April, IOM has been supporting efforts by the Ministry of Health to vaccinate at-risk and hard-to-reach populations. They have included health workers, people with chronic illnesses and elderly citizens.
One Ethiopian migrant who received the vaccine in Aden, Naima Mohammed, told the agency he had one family member die from COVID-19 last year.
Since then, he has come to the Migrant Response Point several times to get the facts about protection measures, such as handwashing and mask wearing.
“Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m more protected”, he said.

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