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Statement on the humanitarian work of the RNLI in the English Channel

The following is a statement from RNLI Chief Executive Mark Dowie:

‘I could not be prouder of our amazing volunteer lifeboat crews, who launch to the aid of anyone who is in trouble in or around the water and needs our help. We have done this since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos.

‘Every year, our lifeboat crews and lifeguards rescue around 30,000 people. We do not judge a casualty on what circumstances have found them in trouble. Our crews are tasked by HM Coastguard in the UK and the Irish Coast Guard in Ireland to rescue anyone who is at risk of drowning. They go home after a shout secure in the knowledge that without their help, the person they rescued may not have been able to be reunited with their own family. That is why they do what they do.

‘These same principles apply to our lifesaving work in the Channel. We do not judge those we rescue – where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch in response to a call from HM Coastguard. We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.

‘When our lifeboats launch, we operate under International Maritime Law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter all waters regardless of territories for search and rescue purposes. And when it comes to rescuing those people attempting to cross the Channel, we do not question why they got into trouble, who they are or where they come from. All we need to know is that they need our help.

‘Our crews do what they do because they believe that anyone can drown, but no one should. They believe in and remain focused on our core purpose, along with every member of the RNLI, to save lives at sea.’

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#DonateDosesNow

Currently, many countries support dose donation in principle and have signalled intent to donate doses later in the year. However, immediate time-bound donations are needed to address the acute shortage this summer and prevent further deadly surges of COVID-19 around the world.

  1. Donate doses now: G7 Governments and other well-supplied countries should collectively donate 20 per cent of available doses in June, July and August – more than 150 million doses – to address the urgent shortage.
  2. Commit to release future doses: Governments that have contracted for more ‘future doses’ than required to vaccinate their adult populations this year should immediately commit to a roadmap to scale donations across 2021, to reach 1 billion by end of the year.
  3. Refrain from contract restrictions that prevent equitable access: This includes not adding, as well as dropping, existing clauses that would prevent use of vaccines outside of a contracting country’s borders.
  4. Identify and plan dose availability: Governments must work with both manufacturers and COVAX to identify and plan for dose donation to  enhance predictability, equitable access, and help stabilize the global vaccine market.
  5. No additional costs: Dose donation should not place any additional costs on countries receiving the vaccines and all reallocations should adhere to the COVAX Principles for Sharing COVID-19 Vaccine Doses.
  6. One act of support does not negate the other: Dose donations should be made additionally to fully funding the COVAX facility and ACT A and additional to other official development assistance commitments.

Read more about UNICEF's #DonateDosesNow campaign.

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