UNICEF chief calls for humanitarian pause for COVID-19 vaccination

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore on Wednesday called on the UN Security Council to extend a humanitarian pause for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We need a global cease-fire. At a minimum, we need your help to extend the call made in Resolution 2532 for a humanitarian pause for the duration of vaccine delivery and administration,” Fore told a Security Council open debate on “ensuring the equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in contexts affected by conflict and insecurity.”

Resolution 2532, which was adopted in July 2020, calls on all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days, in order to enable the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, provisions of related services by impartial humanitarian actors, and medical evacuations.

By the time of adoption, no COVID-19 vaccines had won official approval.

The only way out of this pandemic is to ensure vaccines are available for everyone, she said. “In this historic effort, we must include the millions of people who are living through, or fleeing conflict and instability. Equitable access to vaccines for all people, including those living under conflict, is essential.”

She asked the Security Council to join UNICEF’s call to all member states to ensure that everyone is included in national vaccination plans, regardless of their legal status or if they live in areas controlled by non-state entities.

Fore also asked the Security Council to help UNICEF re-start stalled immunization campaigns for other diseases like measles, diphtheria and polio.

“We cannot allow this fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in our fight against others,” she said.

UNICEF is aiming to procure 2 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. This is on top of the 2 billion doses of other vaccines UNICEF normally procures each year on behalf of 100 countries, said Fore.

“This historic effort deserves historic support. Help us ensure that the light at the end of the tunnel shines on us all, including the families and communities enduring the horrors of conflict,” she told the Security Council. Enditem

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