UK foreign secretary tells UN there is a moral obligation to protect people in conflict zones
Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary, is to ask for a ceasefire to be implemented in conflict zones so that local populations can be vaccinated against the coronavirus, arguing that the world has a “moral obligation to act”.
The British minister will chair a UN Security Council meeting in an attempt to persuade its members to adopt a resolution calling for a negotiated ceasefire on the ground in areas such as Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
“Global vaccination coverage is essential to controlling the coronavirus”, – Raab will say at the meeting, reflecting concern that where the disease is not controlled it could increase the likelihood of vaccine-resistant strains emerging.
But while charities welcomed the UK initiative, they urged rich countries to consider further developments. Sam Nadel, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, warned that the poorest post-conflict countries risked not getting any vaccines without a “massive increase” in global production.
Nadel called on the British government to “unblock the supply problem by insisting that vaccine science and know-how is no longer seen as the private property of a handful of pharmaceutical corporations, but shared with qualified manufacturers around the world”.
The UK government was criticised last week for refusing to stop supplying bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the war in Yemen, after the new Biden administration said it would suspend such arms sales.
Britain estimates that some 160 million people would otherwise risk being excluded from vaccination programmes.
“We have a moral obligation to act and a strategic need to unite to defeat this virus”, – the minister is expected to add.
Biden says he has spoken to all but one living former US president