First COVID-19 vaccination unit opens in Domiz-1 refugee camp in Duhok

News and Press Release
Originally published


Erbil-Kurdistan Region of Iraq, 14 July 2021 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Directorate General of Health (DOH) inaugurated yesterday the first COVID-19 vaccination unit in Domiz-1 Refugee Camp in Duhok Governorate. The establishment of this vaccination unit was achieved with support from the Department of Health and the Department of Migration and Crisis Response (DMCR) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), complementing efforts undertaken by partners. The newly established unit is part of the public health centre at the Camp that is established and already providing vital health care services to camp residents, which currently hosts some 31,000 Syrian refugees, and those living in urban areas nearby.

The opening ceremony of the vaccination unit, the first of its kind in a refugee camp in Iraq, was attended by the General Director of Health in Duhok, UNHCR Duhok, in addition to other government officials and partners including Peace Winds of Japan, the Swedish Development Aid Organisation (SWEDO) and DMCR, as well as Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF). Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR has coordinated with and supported the health sector throughout Iraq to ensure that refugees and IDPs are included in national health response plans and vaccination rollouts.

"This year's theme of the World Refugee Day was inclusion of refugees and other communities affected by displacement in health, education, and sports. As the pandemic has shown us, nobody is safe until everyone is safe. As such, collective efforts, and partnerships in support to the health sector are critical to reach more beneficiaries among refugee, displaced, returnee, and host communities", said Gwenolenn Le Couster, Head of UNHCR Sub-Office Duhok.

UNHCR has been disseminating information and awareness on the vaccine to the refugee community, and the importance of vaccination. The camp hosts the largest refugee population and is also accessible for those in some urban areas. Refugees can register for the vaccine online through the Ministry of Health portal. On-site registration is also available for refugees who approach the centre and the vaccination centre is public and not limited to camp residents.

UNHCR welcomes the efforts by the authorities in the KRI and the Federal Government of Iraq for including refugees and other displaced communities in the national vaccination plan on par with the local population and for providing them access to PCR testing and COVID-19 treatment. End