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Africa rejects vaccine passport travel protocol

By Wole Oyebade (Lagos) and Joke Falaju (Abuja)
14 October 2021   |   4:19 am
African nations have rejected the proposal to impose vaccine passport protocol on air travel, describing the move as discriminatory.

Hadi Sirika

African nations have rejected the proposal to impose vaccine passport protocol on air travel, describing the move as discriminatory.

They said making the document mandatory for flying defeats the intent of the Chicago Convention that stresses friendship and establishment of international air transport based on justice.

Led by their Nigerian counterpart, Hadi Sirika, the African Ministers of Aviation, yesterday, at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) High Level Conference on COVID-19 in Montreal, Canada, sought alternative safety measures.

Amid growing acceptance of the protocol, the Federal Government recently refuted plans to begin its enforcement from December 1, 2021.

Europe already has vaccination as a compulsory travel requirement. Countries like the United States of America, China, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Mali, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have since toed same line.

Sirika said Africa frowns on nations imposing unilateral measures relating to public health globally.

“There is a clear onus on both public and private stakeholders to take full measure of the dire circumstances now facing the air transport sector and to ensure sufficient operational sustainability. These actions are critical for the world to adequately get reconnected, as aviation plays a critical role in the global economic recovery and realisation of the goals of both the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nation (UN) Agenda 2030 for sustainable development,” he said.

The Nigerian observed that global emergency and humanitarian supplies, including vaccines, would depend on economically viable aviation systems.

“It is worth noting that the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) Roadmap for Prioritising use of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Context of Limited Supply acknowledges that there is still a limited supply of vaccines and puts forward seven key assumptions regarding vaccines. This further strengthens the fact that vaccines are still not widely available to all world regions, particularly Africa,” Sirika added.

The Guardian earlier reported that vaccine passport policy draws the line between those that have taken the jab and those that have not, as well as between vaccinated-rich countries and poor ones like Nigeria that have barely kick-started vaccination, therefore, leading to disenfranchising the unvaccinated and poor countries from international travel and tourism.