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Vaccination campaign

Red Cross monitors were not present for the vaccination of Aoun, his wife and staff, the IFRC says

Red Cross monitors were not present for the vaccination of Aoun, his wife and staff, the IFRC says

President Michel Aoun poses with a delegation including World Bank official Saroj Kumar Jha in August of last year. (Credit: Dalati & Nohra)

BEIRUT — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was not made aware of the vaccination of President Michel Aoun, his wife and 10 staff members, a spokesperson told L’Orient Today — an apparent violation of the rules governing Lebanon’s COVID-19 inoculation program.

Under an agreement with the World Bank, the IFRC, which is monitoring the vaccination campaign, must receive a daily list from the Health Ministry of the sites that will receive the vaccine. The IFRC then dispatches monitors to the vaccine site.

Because the IFRC was not notified of the president and his team’s vaccinations, they were not present to monitor the process as per the agreement with the World Bank.

“The Ministry of Health did not tell us about the mobile team that went to the palace. So the IFRC monitors were not there because we were not informed,” said Rana Sidani Cassou, the head of communications for IFRC MENA.

The World Bank, which is providing $34 million in funding for the initial rollout of inoculations, is playing an active role in monitoring the vaccination campaign along with the IFRC.

Aoun’s press office confirmed yesterday that the president, his wife Nadia and 10 members of his staff had been inoculated. The statement said the 10 associates had “registered their names on the vaccination platform according to the applicable procedures.” However, it did not say whether the staff members fell under priority vaccination categories.

The Presidential Palace could not be immediately reached for comment. The World Bank declined to make an immediate comment.

The news comes a day after a storm of controversy broke out over the vaccination of more than a dozen MPs and parliamentary staff in violation of the national COVID-19 vaccination plan. The IFRC was present for the vaccinations, which occurred at Parliament.

According to the national plan, front-line health care workers, those over 75 and those with serious medical conditions should be first to receive the vaccines, which only arrived in Lebanon the weekend before last.

Those found eligible are invited to make an appointment at a registered inoculation center — a procedure the 12 MPs, and now the president, appeared to bypass.

Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s director for the Middle East, confirmed the violation and warned that it may lead to the partial suspension of the World Bank’s vaccine financing. Jha said the IFRC had confirmed Tuesday’s violation in a report to be made public at the end of the week.


BEIRUT — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was not made aware of the vaccination of President Michel Aoun, his wife and 10 staff members, a spokesperson told L’Orient Today — an apparent violation of the rules governing Lebanon’s COVID-19 inoculation program.Under an agreement with the World Bank, the IFRC, which is monitoring the vaccination campaign,...