Discrimination Against Minorities in Lebanon Hits Vaccines; 'Citizens First, Refugees Last'

Published January 20th, 2021 - 07:12 GMT
Discrimination Against Minorities in Lebanon Hits Vaccines; 'Citizens First, Refugees Last'
the Lebanese government have announced signing a deal with Pfizer-BionTech to receive over 2 million doses. (ANWAR AMRO / AFP)

Even though the first shipment of vaccines is not expected to arrive in Lebanon before the start of February, Lebanese social media has witnessed a heated debate over who gets the priority to take COVID-19 jabs, and whether or not having Lebanese citizenship should be amongst the conditions to receive the vaccine. 

Translation: "No country in the world would allow providing vaccines to anyone on its soil before all of its citizens. The UN should provide vaccines to all Lebanese people before we allow foreigners to receive any dose."

In a country that hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees and about 500k others hailing from Palestine, the conversation over citizenship and services offered to the country's nationals in comparison to those provided to refugees has always been a hot topic of discussion in Lebanon.

Several tweets that called on authorities to prioritize Lebanese nationals before providing the jab for refugees living in the country have ignited opposing views by other Lebanese commentators who argued that priorities should be given on the basis of age and health situation regardless of citizenship.

Translation: "There are more Lebanese expats across the world than there are Lebanese living in the country. They will be receiving the vaccine with no other considerations. Meanwhile, a racist person affiliated with a fascist political party is promoting not vaccinating non-Lebanese people. This is beyond racism, it easily qualifies as ethnic cleansing."

Accusing the first viewpoint of being discriminatory against non-Lebanese, some tweets argued that Lebanese expats in other parts of the world are receiving vaccinations just as citizens of the countries they live in, which means that the same should apply to everyone living in Lebanon.

Earlier this week, the Lebanese government has announced signing a deal with Pfizer-BionTech to receive over 2 million doses of the vaccine by the start of next month.

Meanwhile, rolling out the Sinopharm vaccine earlier this month, neighboring Jordan has been the first country in the region to offer free-of-charge vaccinations to UN-registered refugees living in the country.


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