By John Ikani
African Ministers of Aviation have described the much-touted proposal to impose vaccine passports on air travellers as unacceptable.
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.
The ministers under the auspices of African Ministers of Aviation, made their position known on the subject matter at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) High Level Conference on COVID-19 in Montreal, Canada.
Led by their Nigerian counterpart, Hadi Sirika, the ministers sought alternative safety measures.
They said rather than imposing vaccine passports, the African delegation recommended that states’ 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.
Sirika also recommended that human rights, regional/continental/global health security, economic growth, social cohesion and good international relations, and 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.
“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.
What you should know
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.
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 followed the trend.’