Palestinian Authority underneath hearth for VIP vaccines

The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that it diverted some COVID-19 vaccination doses meant for medical staff to VIPs, as critics have claimed, however mentioned this concerned a small fraction of inoculations.

A PA well being ministry assertion on Tuesday mentioned 10 p.c of the 12,000 doses it obtained got to the Palestinian nationwide soccer crew, authorities ministers, presidential guards and members of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee. Another 200 doses went to the Jordanian royal courtroom, after a request from Amman.

But it mentioned the opposite 90 p.c went to well being staff treating COVID-19 instances in intensive care models and emergency departments, and well being ministry staff.

The ministry assertion adopted criticism from a number of Palestinian human rights and civil society teams, who urged an investigation into the vaccination programme, saying it was not clear.

“The incoming information and testimonies point to ongoing cases where vaccines are obtained by several parties, in disregard of the principle of priority in distribution,” the teams mentioned in a joint assertion on Monday.

2021 02 22T101949Z 907049168 RC2MXL9FRZWU RTRMADP 3 HEALTH CORONAVIRUS PALESTINIANS VACCINESA well being employee prepares to vaccinate former Palestinian well being minister Jawad Tibi in Gaza City [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has lengthy confronted accusations of nepotism and cronyism. In a December ballot, 86 p.c of Palestinians surveyed mentioned they seen PA establishments as corrupt.

But, defending its vaccination programme, the well being ministry mentioned the ministers and safety officers who obtained vaccines had been “in direct contact with the president and the prime minister”. It additionally mentioned a few of those that obtained vaccines had been election officers whereas the soccer crew was vaccinated as a result of the gamers wanted vaccination certificates to have the ability to travel “to represent Palestine in a match”.

Social media customers have launched the hashtag in Arabic #WhereIsTheVaccine.

Issa Amro, a well known activist from Hebron, wrote on his Facebook web page that the PA failed in allocating the vaccine pretty.

“The scandal of distributing the vaccine to officials should be the reason for not electing the list that represents the government,” he mentioned, referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections in May – the primary in 15 years.

“Shame on you, you have failed even in distributing the vaccine,” he mentioned, referring to the PA.

Record excessive of instances

In the occupied West Bank, coronavirus instances have reached a file excessive for the reason that pandemic started, ensuing within the announcement of recent lockdown measures.

“The outbreak is very bad, and the cases themselves are very bad, worse than in the beginning,” mentioned Tayeb Zeineddin, who has been working at a Ramallah testing centre for the reason that pandemic started. He mentioned greater than 1,000 individuals present up day by day for assessments.

The PA has reported greater than 130,000 instances within the West Bank for the reason that outbreak started, together with at the least 1,819 instances on Tuesday.

At least 1,510 individuals have died, and dozens are in intensive care. In Gaza, which is underneath a 13-year blockade by Israel and Egypt, authorities have reported greater than 55,000 instances and at the least 553 deaths.

The results go far past the illness itself.

The World Bank estimates the Palestinian financial system shrank by 11.5 p.c in 2020, with tourism and restaurant sectors hit notably exhausting. Unemployment within the West Bank spiked to 15 p.c this 12 months, and about 1.four million Palestinians are living in poverty, it mentioned final month.

The occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, home to a mixed 5.2 million Palestinians, have obtained about 34,700 vaccine doses so far. These got here from small donations by Israel and Russia in addition to 20,000 despatched by the United Arab Emirates to Gaza.

The numbers lag far behind Israel, which has vaccinated greater than one-third of its 9 million individuals in one of many world’s quickest roll-outs.

Israeli officers have mentioned that underneath the Oslo peace accords, the PA well being ministry is chargeable for vaccinating Palestinians.

But Palestinians have accused Israel of ignoring its duties as an occupying energy by not together with them in its inoculation programme, saying vaccines from Israel shouldn’t be donations as Palestine isn’t a poor nation however a territory the place Israel has full financial and political management.

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