African Countries Rebuff Vaccine Passports for Air Travellers Proposal

Nigeria has joined the rest of African to reject the idea of mandatory vaccine passports on air travellers, stating that it amounts to discrimination.

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while speaking during a presentation at the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) high-level conference on COVID-19 said the proposal is against the intent of the Chicago convention on the need to preserve mutual friendship and understanding, minimise the threat to general security and establish international air transport based on equal opportunity, operated soundly and economically.

Sirika, who spoke for Africa said rather than imposing vaccine passports, states that are parties to the convention on international civil aviation should continue to minimise the risks during travel by ensuring compliance with existing multinational treaties, international frameworks, guidelines and recommendations.

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The minister also recommended that human rights, regional/continental/global health security, economic growth, social cohesion as well as use of innovation and technology worldwide to harmonise requirements should be promoted, while transmission of critical information across borders related to public health issues such as COVID-19 and coordination among key players should also be considered.

He also stated that African nations frowned at states imposing unilateral measures of global nature related to public health and asked such states to refrain from such practices and instead, take measures that would facilitate the reopening and reconnection of the world.

The minister also said two continental joint meetings of African ministers responsible for health, ICT and transport have been so far organised, with the second joint meeting rolling out the African campaign against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods endorsed on 20 August 2020 by the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of States and Government with chairpersons of the regional economic communities of the African Union.

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The meetings, according to him, charged African countries to work together towards harmonising travel entry and exit requirements, and to increase mutual recognition and cross-border information exchange for enhanced surveillance.

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.

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