EU and UNICEF improve access to COVID-19 vaccination and education for refugees and migrants in Egypt

In partnership with UNICEF, the EU aims to expand access to COVID-19 vaccination, basic education and child protection services, with a specific focus on refugee and migrant children.

24 October 2021

CAIRO, 24 October 2021 – The European Union (EU) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have embarked on a two-year collaboration to educate children from refugee and migrant communities in Egypt, and also improve the access of these communities to COVID-19 vaccination.  

The EUR 2.2 million grant will help vulnerable refugee and migrant children access child protection services and catch up on learning in a safe environment. The programme will also strengthen the capacity of the health system to include refugees and other vulnerable population groups in the vaccination efforts.  

“Providing school-aged refugee children with better education is a global priority for the EU. By supporting the education of vulnerable children we are investing in their future and helping them create a better life for themselves,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič. “At the same time, we want to make sure no one is left behind by the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns which is why we are partnering with UNICEF Egypt to improve access to vaccination for refugees and migrants.”

This programme will be implemented in close partnership with three national partners, the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MoETE), the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM).

“Egypt’s national vaccine deployment plan highlights that all population groups should be vaccinated - no matter their legal or economic status. This includes refugees and migrants. The equitable access to vaccines for all is essential - not only as a matter of equity - but as the only pathway to ending this pandemic for all,” said Dr. Hala Zayed, Minister of Health and Population. “We are committed to making this happen,” she added.

As part of this partnership, the MoHP is developing an interactive mobile phone-based service using its 1440 short code to offer guidance and advise on COVID-19 prevention, vaccination as well as health and nutrition care for children under five.

For her part, Dr. Sahar El Sonbaty, Secretary General of NCCM stated: “Egypt hosts a predominantly young refugee population in need of accessible and quality services at all levels. The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood is working hard to provide case management and specialized protection services to the most vulnerable refugee and migrant children to protect them from all forms of violence.”  

“UNICEF and partners take the ‘one refugee approach’, an integrated and inclusive approach to working with all vulnerable refugee and migrant children and families, regardless of nationality, official status in country, presence of a parent or guardian and physical and mental abilities,” said Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt.  “Together we are committed to actions that will lead to tangible improvements in the lives of refugee and migrant children in Egypt.”

As of 30 June 2021, the refugee population registered with UNHCR comprised 133,568 Syrians, 50,665 Sudanese, 20,240 South Sudanese, 20,174 Eritreans, 15,671 Ethiopians, 9,404 Yemenis, 6,805 Iraqis. 6,771 Somalis and more than 50 other nationalities.

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