By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
Rwanda on Wednesday vaccinated asylum seekers and refugees against COVID-19, an exercise that was welcomed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Rwanda (UNHCR-Rwanda).
The exercise started at the Bugesera district-based Gashora Emergency Transit Centre that hosts African asylum seekers of different nationalities, who were evacuated from Libya to Rwanda early last year.
At first a total of 197 refugees and asylum seekers from Libya and 154 staff members of the centre received their first Covid-19 jabs.
“None is safe until everyone is safe, thank you Rwanda Government through the Ministry of Health for including refugees in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Today refugees hosted in ETM centre, staff and partners were vaccinated,” UNHCR-Rwanda tweeted on Wednesday.
The government has said that refugees were some of the priority groups and those who were vaccinated first are likely to be transferred elsewhere.
The exercise, according to officials will continue in other camps such as Kiziba camp and Gihembe camps whose refugees could also be resettled.
“The COVID-19 vaccination drive will continue in other refugee camps, with priority given to vulnerable individuals and those who are part of the resettlement program. Rwanda is committed to refugees inclusion in Government programs and response plans” said a statement from the Ministry of Emergency Management.
More refugees and asylum seekers will also be vaccinated starting from the elderly, the sick, and other vulnerable groups as more vaccines are availed.
Rwanda started the vaccination exercise early in March 5 2021 when it launched it across the country. It had received about 400,000 doses and over 500,000 doses are expected soon according to information from the Ministry of Health.
The aim is to vaccinate 60 per cent of the population by June 2022 according to the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije.
More than 220,000 doses of COVID-19 have been administered so far. Among the beneficiaries include moto bicycle taxi drivers, inmates, District Administration Security Services Officers, refugees, teachers, elderly residents as well as some public officials and some journalists.
Rwanda has recorded a total of 19846 positive cases of COVID-19 pandemic, of whom 1457 remain active cases with 16 in critical condition as of Wednesday 10 March 2021 according to figures from the Ministry of Health.