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Regional Bureau for the Middle East and North Africa: COVID-19 Response, Update #24 (1 – 31 October 2021)

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17.4 million people of concern in the Middle East and North Africa (2021 planning figures)

18,314 cases of COVID-19 reported among people of concern (POCs) to UNHCR since March 2020, including fatalities

19 out of 19 countries in the MENA region have confirmed the inclusion of refugees in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes or plans

19 out of 19 countries in the MENA region have started COVID-19 vaccinations for refugees

Regional Developments

Despite indications of a fourth wave, many operations in MENA observed a constant or downward trend in COVID-19 infections among refugees and asylum-seekers during October, believed to be in large part to increasing rates of vaccination within refugee communities. While Egypt and Jordan saw a comparatively similar number of infections from the month prior, Algeria and Mauritania saw a notable drop in cases particularly among camp-based refugees in October; Libya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also saw a drop in infections among the general population. As government authorities continued to limit access to public as well as private venues to those with proof of vaccination or negative PCR result, UNHCR is responding to concerns raised by people of concern (PoCs) regarding limitations on access to services including vaccinations, as well as possible response measures for foreign nationals not yet fully vaccinated, including threats of deportation.

With governments continuing to receive vaccines through COVAX and bilaterally, UNHCR has maintained support to local health responses. UNHCR support has included the provision of medical equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE), conducting awareness-raising campaigns, assisting PoCs with vaccine registration, and deploying mobile vaccine units in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. A data collection system was also rolled out in Algeria to better monitor local epidemiological trends among camp-based refugees, including chains of transmission.