IOM Marks One Year of COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign in Libya
Libya – 3 November 2022, With the support of the Austrian Development Agency and the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) marks one year since the start of its vital support to the Libyan National COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign led by the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The campaign particularly targeted hard-to-reach communities and migrant detention centres in Libya.
Since October 2021, IOM provided various COVID-19 vaccination support to 23,732 migrants and host communities in Libya. In total, 23,004 migrants (97%) and 728 Libyans (3%), received either Sinopharm, AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines. While 18,527 (78%) of the beneficiaries received one dose, 4,214 people (18%) received two doses, and 991 (4%) received three doses.
“The COVID-19 vaccination campaign that IOM has been facilitating with the NCDC in Libya is very important to better protect migrants and vulnerable host communities, who are vulnerable to COVID-19. This is due to their living conditions, greater proximity and restrained access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services”, Federico Soda, Chief of Mission of IOM Libya.
Lack of access to vaccination centres is a commonly identified obstacle to getting vaccinated for many migrants in the country. The vaccination campaign was organized in 22 community settings in West, East and South of Libya, as well as in 13 migrant detention centres. The migrants vaccinated were from 52 different countries of origin, with Niger (20%), Sudan (19%), Egypt (13%) and Eritrea (9%) being the most represented ones.
As a Nigerien migrant in Hai Al-Andalus explained to IOM: “I didn’t know before that the vaccine is free and I thought it was only for Libyans. Thank you for the clarification sister, of course, I’ll join the others now in the line to get my first dose ‘’.
The IOM assessment on COVID-19 and Vaccination in Libya (August 2022), highlighted that only 55% of migrants believe that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Hesitancy to get vaccinated appears mainly related to a lack of information, lack of trust in information available or misinformation on specific vaccines, manufacturers, and their benefits, which lead to a lack of trust and concerns around vaccines’ efficiency and safety. The fear of adverse side effects, which many perceive as being severe to life-threatening and/or as having the potential to affect their ability to continue working, was also identified as a major driver of resistance to get vaccinated.
‘’ I can’t be more thankful to IOM. All the people who live in this shelter got vaccinated after conducting awareness sessions and the vaccination campaign in the area. All of them feel safer now. What happened today was really important for us because as you saw some of us can’t move easily out, especially the women.”, Eritrean migrant community leader on October 24, 2022.
Awareness raising sessions, conducted by the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in collaboration with IOM, are organized as a part of the vaccination campaign and reached 39,582 people between October 2021 and October 2022.
Trust is a key element of any vaccination campaign, and of COVID-19 campaigns especially. ‘’I had some doubt about the vaccine because there were many rumors about it like dying after two years if you get the vaccine. I read the booklet that you gave us and I’m sure that any information from IOM should be trusted… [after long conversion] … I can now take my first shot without any concerns. Thank you, IOM medical team, for your great support’’, said a South Sudanese migrant in Tripoli.
According to the last IOM DTM report (Round 42, May-June 2022), the primary needs for migrants currently in Libya are centered around health services (70%). Indeed, four in five migrants (80%) interviewed by DTM in May and June 2022 stated having limited or no access to health services in Libya. Consistent with previous reports findings, cost and affordability of medical services remain the main hurdle to fulfill their needs.
For more information, please contact IOM Libya:
Arif Syed Hussain, Migration Health Coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org
Giacomo Terenzi, M&E and Public Information Officer – email@example.com