China and India plan to send COVID-19 vaccines to the West Bank and Gaza amid calls for donor countries to ensure pandemic protection for the Palestinians.
"China has decided to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Palestine," the country's Ambassador Geng Shuang told the United Nations Security Council during its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"These vaccines will be delivered to Palestine real soon. We will continue to do our best to help Palestine fight the pandemic," Geng said.
He noted that China had already sent medical supplies to 141 health centers for Palestinian refugees run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
India's Deputy Representative Nagaraj Naidu said that his county would "facilitate an early supply of vaccines to Palestine."
He added that, "equity in access to vaccines across the world is important for mitigating the impact of the pandemic."
India has already sent medicines and medical supplies to the Palestinians and plans to send a second shipment of such aid, he said.
Both China and India are exporters of COVID-19 vaccines. Neither envoy gave details with respect to how many vaccines they would send.
Last week the European Union pledged to provide 20 million euros for the purchase of vaccines for the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority has just begun its limited vaccine program. Israel, in contrast, has purchased vaccines for its population, half of which has already been vaccinate. The Jewish state has been heavily criticized for not similarly buying vaccines for the Palestinians. At the UNSC on Friday, however, ambassadors and officials typically critical of Israel lauded it for its efforts to help the Palestinians including its donations of vaccines and its facilitation of the transfer of vaccines to the PA, even as they called on Israel to do more.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland said, "I appreciate efforts by the Israeli Government to support the Palestinian response to COVID-19."
"It is critically important that this cooperation continues and is enhanced to ensure that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza receive a fair and timely share in the distribution of vaccines," Wennesland said.
"The UN welcomes the announcement of the Palestinian vaccination strategy and the initial allocation to the Palestinian Ministry of Health of at least 37,440 doses of vaccines by the COVAX-AMC facility," Wennesland said.
"In addition, in February, 30,000 doses of vaccines were delivered to Palestinians, including in Gaza, by Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
"This is in addition to the Israeli’s earlier transfer of 5,200 vaccines to the Palestinian Authority, the vaccination of 5,000 Palestinian educational and health workers working in Israel and efforts to vaccinate the population in east Jerusalem, which is 50 per cent completed," Wennesland added.