COVID-19 vaccination: people living in conflict zones should not be forgotten

December 2021 — As wealthier countries continue vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and new virus variants trigger spikes in cases, millions of people living through conflict and armed violence are yet to receive a single vaccine dose. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 underscores how vulnerable we all are when large swaths of the globe are not yet vaccinated.

Many of these people are living in countries where no vaccines are available, or when they are accessible, they face challenges to access health services and are at-risk of being forgotten. This includes people who are detained, displaced from their homes, on a migration route, living in non-government-controlled areas or under the control of non-state armed groups.

From Mozambique to Myanmar, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with Red Cross and Red Crescent partners around the world to support COVID-19 vaccination in armed conflicts as well as hard-to-reach and volatile areas to ensure no one is left behind.

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ICRC's Operational support for COVID-19 vaccination plans
ICRC's Operational support for COVID-19 vaccination plans



ICRC in Ethiopia

Supports the Regional Health Bureau (RHB) and health facilities with logistics.

The ICRC supports the RHB and national health facilities with logistics such as cold chain, refrigerators, cold boxes; as well as perdiem, Personal Protective Equipment and training for health staff; waste management; and, information, education and communication materials.

In Tigray, the ICRC has completed the rehabilitation of the COVID-19 ward in Mekelle General hospital. The ICRC supported oxygen supply for two COVID centers and is in process to secure the cold chain item for health facilities.

ICRC in Mauritania

Provides support to places of detention.

The ICRC supports the Ministry of Health in places of detention for vaccination of all detainees and prison staff.

ICRC in Mozambique

Supports the Ministry of Health and the National Society with transportation.

The ICRC facilitates the transport of vaccines and Ministry of Health vaccination teams in three conflict-affected districts in the central region and a further three in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

The support to the vaccination campaign is expected to help reach 742,000 people in the central region and 715,000 people – including 230,000 displaced people – in Cabo Delgado. In addition, the ICRC supports the National Society in all six districts to increase awareness of the campaign among the population and the acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ICRC in Niger

Supports the National Society with training and equipment.

The ICRC provides support to the National Society on hygiene promotion and training for COVID-19 vaccination, with special emphasis on conflict and violence-affected regions such as Tillabéri (Sahel) and Diffa (Lac Chad Basin).

ICRC in Nigeria

Supports Primary Health Care services and hospitals.

The ICRC provides protection for staff and patients through the provision of Personal Protective Equipment, non-touch thermometers and hygiene items, as well as training on use.



ICRC in Afghanistan

Supports the National Society with aid.

The ICRC has provided three months of aid to support the Afghan Red Crescent Society's vaccination campaign at its hospital in Kabul.

ICRC in Bangladesh

Supports the National Society with financial and technical support. 

The ICRC has provided support to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to register communities for the Covid-19 vaccination through the government's online portal, focusing primarily on rural communities facing challenges of internet connectivity in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Beginning on a pilot basis, the ICRC and BDRCS identified target communities in liaison with the local authorities and sensitized them about the registration process before setting up a mobile registration booth at the closest location where 3G services were available. 

Teams of BDRCS volunteers then completed the registration process and provided printouts of the vaccination registration cards. After this pilot phase, which successfully enabled communities to avail the vaccination from local government health facilities, the ICRC and BDRCS have sought to scale the initiative.

ICRC in Indonesia

Supports the National Society with logistics and financial aid.

The ICRC works with the National Society (PMI) to support the vaccination process in remote and sensitive areas in the Eastern part of the country which focus on sensitization activities, providing the logistics and operational costs for the PMI and community mobilization.

From July to October, the collaboration between ICRC, PMI and Health offices has made it possible that more than 26,000 people have received COVID-19 vaccine shots in Nusa Tenggara Timur, Papua, Papua Barat, Maluku and Jakarta Provinces.

ICRC in Malaysia

Supports the National Society with equipment and financial aid.

The ICRC provides financial and equipment contribution to the NS which is supporting the vaccination rollout in several key areas, incl. population living in remote areas and the most vulnerable communities, including the undocumented and stateless. The ICRC supports the NS communication activities in support to the COVID-19 National Vaccination Plan.

ICRC in Myanmar/Rakhine

Supports Ministry of Health vaccination activities in North and Central Rakhine.

The ICRC supported the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 vaccination activities in two townships in Central Rakhine (Rathedaung and Sittwe) where 17,590 people were vaccinated during the months of April and May.

The ICRC also provided financial support to the Maungdaw District Health department in North Rakhine for vaccination activities held in Maungdaw Hospital, Kyein Chaung Station Hospital and Taung Pyo Station Hospital.

ICRC in Pakistan

Supports the National Society with logistics and financial aid. 

Since the beginning of October and for 3 months, the ICRC is supporting Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir to implement the Covid-19 mass vaccination campaign in 3 districts in Muzaffarabad (Poonch, Jhelum Valley and Bhimper) through the payment of incentives to PRCS volunteers, salary to the vaccination campaign coordinators, plus perdiems to 12 vaccinators. 

The ICRC provides also PPEs (gloves, sanitizers, masks etc), fuel and maintenance for 7 ambulances. Its financial aid serves also for the awareness Campaign activities on need of vaccination through print, electronic and social media.

ICRC in the Philippines

Supports the Health Office with medical equipment. 

The ICRC is providing Cotabato City Health Office in Mindanao with medical equipment aiming at facilitating the rollout of the vaccination in the area of responsibility.

ICRC in Timor-Leste

Supports the National Society with logistics and financial aid.

The ICRC works with the National Society (CVTL) to support the vaccination process in the border area with Indonesia consisting of Bobonaro, Covalima and Oecusse Enclave, which focus on sensitization activities, providing the logistics and operational costs for the National Society and community mobilization. It also supports the involvement of CVTL volunteers, the use of vehicles, and protective equipment.



ICRC in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Supports the National Society with transportation.

The ICRC supports the National Society for the transportation of vulnerable groups (e.g. older persons, people with disabilities, etc.) in all parts of the country, and in Brčko district also for ensuring the cold chain for vaccines and registration of citizens for the vaccination.

ICRC in Georgia

Supports the National Society and facilitates access to vaccines in hard-to-reach areas.

The ICRC supports the National Society in their efforts to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccination at the community level, and to facilitate the access to vaccines for minority groups.

It also helps to strengthen local health capacities to ensure vaccination in hard-to-reach areas, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable groups such as the elderly isolated people.

ICRC in Kosovo*

Supports the two Red Cross structures and their branches.

The ICRC supports the two Red Cross structures and their branches for the transportation of vulnerable groups (e.g. older persons, people with disabilities, etc.), people in hard-to-reach communities and minority groups.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

ICRC in Kyrgyzstan

Provides logistical and training support to places of detention.

The ICRC gives support to training of staff in places of detention and provision of logistical support to ensure the vaccines' cold chain for detainees (e.g. donation of refrigerators, cool boxes and ice packs).

ICRC in Serbia

Supports the National Society to provide access to information.

The ICRC is supporting the National Society in providing equitable access to information for vulnerable population groups, including Roma communities and migrants.

ICRC in Tajikistan

Provides logistical support to maintain the cold chain.

The ICRC notably supports targeted efforts to maintain the cold chain required for vaccine distribution.

ICRC in Ukraine

Supports the National Society with financial aid.

The ICRC supports the National Society's in its role within the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, in particular by widening its contribution to access to vaccination by including people affected by the conflict and/or residing in remote locations; enhancing its vaccination awareness campaign, hotlines and promotion; and strengthening its finance management, accountability, human resources and equipment.



ICRC in Iran

Supports the National Society with financial aid. 

The ICRC is providing a financial contribution to the Iranian Red Crescent to vaccinate 125,000 individuals with two doses each, reaching Afghan migrants and members of host communities, in the four Eastern Provinces of Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan, Sistan and Baluchistan, and Kerman. A joint mobilization campaign is also planned to increase uptake amongst the target population. 

ICRC in Iraq

Provides logistical, training, and financial support to the Ministry of Health.

The ICRC supports almost all of the Ministry of Health (MoH) vaccination centres (661 currently) by providing financial incentives to staff involved in the vaccination activities, materials (refrigerators, laptops) and protective equipment.

It also supports the MoH communication campaign on vaccination and held "Training for Trainers" on vaccination information to MoH staff.

ICRC in Jordan

Supports the Ministry of Health, the National Society and continues advocacy efforts with detention authorities and other relevant authorities.

The ICRC gives support to the National Society on awareness campaigns and the provision of Mental Health and Psychological Support to communities. Advocacy efforts were deployed by the ICRC, which resulted in the penitentiary system including detainees in the national vaccination campaign.

As of the beginning of September, 12,000 detainees (70% of the detained population, have received vaccines against COVID-19 – with 4,265 detainees having already completed the vaccination scheme.

From October, the ICRC, together with the National Society, supports also the work of 30 MoH Mobile Vaccination Teams through the provision of logistical (transport and refrigeration) and communication (mobile phones and internet) equipment to support the roll-out of a new round of vaccination campaign in the northern and southern governorates aimed at increasing the percentage of vaccination in remote towns and communities.

ICRC in Lebanon

Supports the Ministry of Health in several health centres and the National Society with equipment and financial aid.

The ICRC supports the NS which was mandated by the Government to manage the Vaccination Center (Mega Center/ City Mall) with financial and equipment contributions. Since the opening of the vaccination centre and until the 7th of August, 45,244 individuals received the vaccine; on average 1,500 vaccines were administered per day, and the number is increasing.

The ICRC also supports the training of community focal points to promote access to, and utilization of, all vaccination services (including vaccination against COVID-19) among both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese.

The ICRC supports facilities in the North and in Akkar (1 hospital and 1 PHC respectively) as well as the RHUH in Beirut – which serves as a referral centre for management of COVID-19 cases across the country and provides COVID-19 vaccination for the population.



ICRC in Colombia

Supports the Ministry of Health and the National Society to facilitates access to vaccines in conflict areas.

The ICRC is financially supporting Ministry of Health (MoH) mobile health teams for the transportation of vaccines in hard to reach areas (conflict areas) and is planning to provide cold chain items to the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.

It also provides financial support to the National Society for cold chain equipment, vaccinating supplies, community awareness for vaccinating communities in conflict areas. In the Catatumbo region there is an integrated operational partnership where the ICRC and the National Society offer coordinated support to MoH.

The ICRC has negotiated in various occasions that the vaccination teams could access communities under influence of non-state armed groups for COVID-19 vaccinations.

ICRC in El Salvador

Dialogue with authorities to provide vaccination access to vulnerable populations. 

The ICRC initiated and maintained a dialogue with the various Salvadoran authorities to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, in particular for certain vulnerable groups. These discussions contributed to the government's decision to include them, notably migrants, in the vaccination scheme.

ICRC in Peru

Supports the Ministry of Health and the National Society with logistic and financial aid.

In coordination with the IFRC and the Peruvian Red Cross (PRC), the ICRC accompanied the Ministry of Health COVID-19 vaccination operative for 16 native communities in the Lago Imiría Regional Conservation Area, (Amazonas rainforest).

The ICRC supported the operative financially and logistically, both coordinating and covering the expenses regarding the hosting and transportation of the sensitization and vaccination teams, as well as securing access to the communities. 

By the end of October, the Red Cross has facilitated 64 community assemblies in the regions of Puno, Loreto and Ucayali in which 2,555 people have participated and 1,777 have been vaccinated.

ICRC in Venezuela

Supports the National Society with financial aid and logistics.

The ICRC supports the National Society with financial support, fuel and by providing food to the volunteers, active in 14 vaccination centres where every day an average of 2'500 people is vaccinated.