Lisbon, June 14, 2021 (Lusa) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned today of the need to include migrants in vaccination programs against covid-19 around the world under penalty of creating “a new asymmetry in the world” .

“Economic recovery is intrinsically linked to the vaccination process and the need to include migrants in global vaccination efforts”, underlined IOM Director General António Vitorino, pointing out that at least 53 countries around the world have impeded access. from immigrants to vaccination.

This number is the result of a survey carried out by the IOM in 160 countries to show that “the access of migrants to vaccination, both on paper and in practice, has been impeded” in several countries around the world, explained the official, who was speaking at the session opening of the II High Level Interparliamentary Conference on Migration and Asylum in Europe.

A problem that mainly affects “those who have an irregular legal status”, continued the Director General of the IOM at the conference that is taking place simultaneously from Brussels and Lisbon, in face-to-face and remote format.

“Now that governments are starting to distribute vaccines to less developed regions, we must also reduce access barriers to the most vulnerable and strengthen the structures of health systems in developing countries”, defended António Vitorino.

The IOM official welcomed the commitment of the G7 (Germany, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) to donate one million vaccines to poor countries around the world, but stressed that “much more is needed and needed a much faster way”.

These barriers to access to vaccination of these people may not only constitute a problem for public health, but also promote social inequalities and consequently create “a new asymmetry in the world”, warned the head of the IOM.

António Vitorino also underlined the “need for efforts to search for rescue in the Mediterranean”, the route of migratory flows that has registered an increase in the number of deaths in recent months.

“The numbers are scary. 677 deaths on the Mediterranean route from January 1st to the end of April 2021, compared to 221 in the same period in 2020. In other words, the number of lives lost has tripled”, he added.

The chairman of the Committee on Regional Public Administration and Local Self-Government of the Slovenian Parliament, Branko Grims, in turn, underlined the need to reach a consensus among the 27 EU Member States for a migration and asylum policy that is not based in impositions under penalty of “destroying Europe”.

“It is unacceptable that whenever we face this issue [of migration and asylum], we always seek to impose policies and ideologies on others. These are exactly the forces that destroy Europe”, he defended.

Branko Grims insisted that these “controversial issues cannot be resolved through impositions because that will destroy Europe.”

Slovenia, the country that assumes the presidency of the EU Council on July 1st, succeeding Portugal, “will do everything to take the necessary measures to find a consensus” among the 27 in matters of migration and asylum, guaranteed the Slovenian deputy.