Saturday, September 30

Spain donates 2.2 million vaccines against COVID for Afghan refugees in Iran

Spain has donated more than 2.2 million vaccines against COVID-19 to be administered to Afghan refugees in Iran. The doses are expected to arrive this Wednesday at 8:00 am local time in Tehran, where they will be received by the Iranian authorities accompanied by the Spanish Embassy, ​​as confirmed by

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Spain has committed to reaching 50 million doses donated during the first quarter of 2022. The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, said in November that Spain would supply vaccines to “refugees, that is, people living in humanitarian corridors” . “It is an ethical and moral obligation, so we will donate more than two million doses to these contexts,” said Sánchez.

It is an operation of Team Europe, through the European Civil Protection Mechanism, and in which the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health have worked. Government sources explain that these vaccines have been donated bilaterally with Iran after an emergency aid to the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

The operation has not been carried out, thus, through the so-called ‘humanitarian reserve’ of the global fair distribution mechanism COVAX, promoted among other actors by the WHO, which seeks to “guarantee access in high-risk populations in humanitarian environments “. This specific mechanism within COVAX delivered its first doses in November to Iran to increase the coverage of refugees in the country.

As UNICEF explained in a note Regarding the shipment of 1.6 million doses through this reserve, by November 15 Iran had already been vaccinating refugees, at the same time as its citizens and as part of the national vaccination plan.

“Iran was one of the first countries affected by the pandemic and, in recent months, has managed to intensify its vaccination campaign,” the agency said in the statement, noting that, according to government figures, until then more than 500,000 refugees and other persons of concern had received two doses. According to figures compiled by Our World in Data, 72% of the Iranian population have a dose and 63% have the full regimen.

In the same note, Unicef ​​anticipated that “given the high number of Afghans already living in Iran and the recent arrivals of Afghans fleeing renewed violence and insecurity”, it is likely that more vaccines will be needed to protect this community. against COVID-19.

In Iran there are more than 780,000 registered refugees from the neighboring country, according to UNHCR, although these numbers are from 2020, before the Taliban took power. According to ECHO figures, around four million Afghan citizens reside in Iran, including some 2.6 million undocumented Afghans.

Many Afghans have fled a deteriorating situation to Iran, one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries. The Iranian government estimates that, in 2021, almost 500,000 people arrived from Afghanistan, according to a recent UNHCR statement.

In 2021, the European Union allocated €19 million in humanitarian aid to Iran, bringing the total figure to €81.3 million since 2016.