The rights watchdog said in a statement that the Lebanese government had promised an equitable vaccination programme, but “the effort has been tainted by political interference and a lack of information.”
“With one in three people in Lebanon a refugee or migrant, a third of the population risks being left behind in the vaccination plan,” said Nadia Hardman, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The government needs to invest in targeted outreach to build trust with long-marginalised communities or the COVID-19 vaccination effort is doomed to fail,” she added.
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The statement said UN data shows that Syrian and Palestinian refugees have died from COVID-19 at a rate more than four and three times the national average, respectively.
Yet, according to the government’s online COVID-19 vaccine registration and tracking platform, only 2.86 per cent of those vaccinated and 5.36 per cent of those registered to receive vaccinations are non-Lebanese, even though they constitute at least 30 per cent of the population.
HRW criticised some Lebanese politicians without naming them saying they have secured vaccines for their supporters, raising fears that the distribution of vaccines will be based on political affiliation rather than transparent, evidence-based distribution criteria that apply equally to everyone in Lebanon, leaving marginalised groups behind.