For the first time on record, the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, and persecution has now surpassed 100 million. Refugees are forced to leave their country for many reasons, whether to escape war or natural disasters. They travel from all over the globe with their own unique health needs and challenges to access healthcare, both during their journeys and while in their host country. However, what remains universal is the right to seek safety, along with the right to access quality health services.
Although many refugee-hosting countries have made progress when it comes to including refugees in their vaccine rollouts, vaccine inequity continues to affect these populations the most. Countries and communities that receive and host large numbers of refugees need steadfast support from the international community. Now more than ever, people fleeing war and persecution need our support.
Shot@Life, the United Nations Foundation’s grassroots vaccine advocacy campaign, is proud to partner with the AmerisourceBergen Foundation to ensure there are equitable vaccination efforts across the globe. This program will help support the lifesaving work of UN partners working on the frontlines to implement vaccine delivery, community mobilization, monitoring, and surveillance, plus support for healthcare workers, community health workers, and vaccinators in the field.
The United Nations designated June 20 as World Refugee Day, an international day to honor refugees around the world. This year, the focus is on the right to seek safety, including the right to health and access to vaccines. If we prioritize their health, refugees and migrants can contribute to the abundance of a country, supporting the economy, culture, and a diverse society.
Our aim is to ensure that everyone, everywhere, at any time, can access health services that are sensitive to their needs, appropriate for each person’s culture, and without financial roadblocks. This is key to achieving universal health coverage.
While it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day, international days like World Refugee Day help focus global attention on those fleeing conflict or persecution. Because everyone has a right to seek safety—whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whenever they are forced to flee.