Pope calls for fair access to vaccine on Easter Sunday

(Photo: Reuters)

The Pope has used his Easter message to call on the international community to help people in poorer countries receive the vaccine. 

The biggest vaccine drive in history is well under way in more developed countries but poorer nations have struggled to vaccinate their people. 

Commenting on the disparity, Pope Francis said everyone had a right to care and that vaccines were essential in the global fight against Covid-19.

He praised the "valiant efforts of doctors and nurses," and encouraged those who had suffered or lost a loved one during the pandemic to put their hope in the Risen Christ.

He appealed to the international community "to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries," and urged support for those hard hit financially by the pandemic.

Pope Francis touched on many other issues during his Easter broadcast, including the "scandalous" reality of ongoing conflict in parts of the world and weapons stockpiles being "strengthened" instead of reduced.

Areas of conflict that received a special mention from the Pope included the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. 

But he also decried the "deafening and scandalous silence" surrounding Yemen, where the world's worst humanitarian crisis has left 80 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

In areas affected by conflict, he called for "dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation and true solidarity".

He also prayed for the young people of Myanmar who are "committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully" so that "hatred can be dispelled only by love."

Noting that Easter Sunday coincides with International Mine Awareness Day, he lamented the use of these "insidious and horrible devices", and said the world would be "much better" without such "instruments of death". 

"May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war," he said. 

The Urbi et Orbi message was delivered inside St Peter's Basilica due to restrictions in place because of coronavirus.