Refugees1

20 June 2022, Cairo—Today is World Refugee Day, which focuses on the right to seek safety, including safe borders, not forcing anyone back if doing so would jeopardize their life or freedom and the right to non-discriminatory, humane treatment. 

As we mark World Refugee Day 2022, we remember the sacrifice and courage of millions of people who were forced by conflict or natural disasters to leave their homes and countries to safeguard their families and ensure their survival. 

It is our duty to ensure that the world’s 26.6 million refugees have access to essential basic services and are treated with respect and dignity. 

Refugees leave everything behind, including their livelihoods and professions, and begin a new life in new places, sometimes as close as a few kilometres across the border, where their homeland remains on the horizon, a stark reminder of a home they may never see again. 

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, reminds us that “Today, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region is still home to 59% of all refugees worldwide. It is our global responsibility to protect them, and to provide them with the essential medical services, including vaccination.

Refugees are among the most vulnerable to health emergencies and other hazards. One of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we are not safe until everyone is safe, including our most vulnerable populations. Our Region recorded the second lowest rate of COVID-19 vaccine coverage at

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