UK urges UN resolution for pause in conflicts for virus jabs

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Britain circulated a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday demanding that all warring parties immediately institute a “sustained humanitarian pause” to enable people in conflict areas to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The proposed resolution reiterates the council’s demand last July 1 for “a general and immediate cessation of hostilities” in major conflicts from Syria and Yemen to Central African Republic, Mali and Sudan and Somalia. The appeal was first made by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 23, 2020, to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft “emphasises the need for solidarity, equity, and efficacy and invites donation of vaccine doses from developed economies to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need, including through the COVAX Facility”, an ambitious World Health Organization (WHO) project to buy and deliver coronavirus vaccines for the world’s poorest people.

The British draft stresses that “equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines, certified as safe and efficacious, is essential to end the pandemic”.

It would recognise “the role of extensive immunisation against COVID-19 as a global public good for health in preventing, containing, and stopping transmission, in order to bring the pandemic to an end”. The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, follows up on British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s appeal to the 15-member Security Council on Wednesday to adopt a resolution calling for local ceasefires in conflict zones to allow the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Britain says more than 160 million people are at risk of being excluded from coronavirus vaccinations because they live in countries engulfed in conflict and instability.

“Ceasefires have been used to vaccinate the most vulnerable communities in the past,” Raab said. “There’s no reason why we can’t… We have seen it in the past to deliver polio vaccines to children in Afghanistan, just to take one example.”

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Guterres sharply criticised the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75 per cent of all vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every nation vaccinated as
soon as possible.

The UN chief told the high-level council meeting that 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and declared that “at this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community”.

Staff and volunteers arranging aid items to be distributed to internally displaced people sheltering from war. PHOTO: AP