Dominic Raab Calls For Worldwide Vaccine Ceasefire To Tackle Coronavirus In War Zones
A civil war is currently ongoing in Yemen (PA)
Dominic Raab will use a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday to urge world leaders to agree a resolution on global vaccine ceasefires.
Raab, who is chairing the meeting, will tell the UK’s fellow members that they have a “moral duty” to protect the world’s most vulnerable from coronavirus.
He will also argue that allowing the virus to spread in conflict areas without access to vaccines could increase the chance of new coronavirus variants.
Over 160 million people have limited access to vaccines due to conflict around the world, according to the Foreign Office, in countries such as Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.
“One thing I've seen as foreign secretary that we're aware of is the compound impact of coronavirus with famine and conflict around the world,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “It is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.”
Raab continued: “We now want to use our convening power to bring other countries to step up to the plate because it's a team effort.”
But Raab was less forthcoming on whether the UK will force countries such as Saudi Arabia to implement the ceasefire in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been involved with internal conflict for more than five years.
“Don't judge me by what I say on the radio," he said.
“Look at what we're doing and the statement in the draft resolution that we want secured in the United Nations Security Council, not just in relation to Yemen but around the world.
“We think that the right thing to do in this appalling pandemic which is hitting everyone hard.
“But you can see the particular plight of those caught in famine, with Covid, and in war, that there must be a temporary pause to allow the vaccine to be distributed and applied to those in the most unbearable situations.”
Ceasefires have been used to vaccinate vulnerable communities in the past, such as in 2001 when a two-day pause to the war in Afghanistan allowed 35,000 health workers to administer polio vaccines to 5.7 million children under five.
The UK has already provided £548 to the COVAX scheme, which aims to help developing countries access vaccines.