UK to urge ceasefires in conflict zones in bid to enable COVID-19 vaccinations

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British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he will urge the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for cease-fires in conflict zones to allow the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Britain holds the council presidency this month and Raab is chairing a virtual high-level meeting of the UN’s most powerful body on the problem of ensuring access to vaccines in conflict areas on Wednesday. Diplomats said 11 foreign ministers are expected to speak, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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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 including Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

“Global vaccination coverage is essential to beating coronavirus,” Raab said ahead of the meeting. “That is why the UK is calling for a vaccination cease-fire to allow COVID-19 vaccines to reach people living in conflict zones and for a greater global team effort to deliver equitable access.”

British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward stressed that it is in all countries’ interests to ensure that people in hostile areas and vulnerable situations are vaccinated because “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday that Mexico will stress the importance of equal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines at the council meeting.

He was sharply critical that countries that produce the vaccine have high vaccination rates while Latin American countries have problems obtaining doses.

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