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Boris Johnson is being urged to give more COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries ahead of the G7 summit.

More than 100 cross-party MPs and peers want the prime minister to show “global leadership” and commit to a one in, one out policy when it comes to jabs.

The prime minister is set to chair a gathering of the most economically powerful countries in the world in Cornwall from 11 June.

In the run-up to the summit, the signatories have asked the UK government to donate a dose to the United Nations-backed Covax scheme for every dose bought for use in Britain.

The scheme is providing vaccines to low and middle-income countries.

It comes as the World Health Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group and the World Trade Organisation called for richer countries to give more COVID vaccines to poorer nations in a joint plea across a number of international newspapers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being urged to give COVID vaccines to poorer nations

In a letter, the signatories said there is a “clear moral imperative to act to close the global vaccine divide”, as well as a “rational case… to stop the threat of variants emerging abroad and taking root in the UK”.

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It has been backed by senior Tory MPs Peter Bottomley and Dr Dan Poulter – a former health minister who has worked on the frontline during the pandemic.

Others putting their name to the letter include former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Margaret Thatcher’s former health minister Baroness Hooper and ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Campbell.

“The longer we wait to act, the more likely it is that dangerous variants could emerge that can evade the protections offered by current vaccines,” the letter said, which was co-ordinated by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus.

It added: “The UK has an opportunity to use the G7 summit to show leadership on this critical issue and demonstrate that ‘global Britain’ is more than just a slogan.

“While the UK has rightly committed funding to Covax, we remain a net importer of Covid-19 vaccines.

“The APPG on coronavirus, therefore, recommends that the UK must immediately adopt a policy of vaccine matching, in which for each dose of the vaccine imported, one dose is donated to Covax.

“This will help meet the urgent demand for vaccines in low and middle-income countries around the world.

“The UK mustn’t miss the opportunity provided by the G7 summit to lead the way in promoting more equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines.”

The 116 peers and MPs believe the UK should aim to become a “net vaccine exporter” once it has boosted its manufacturing capacity.

The decision to write to the prime minister came about after Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, warned the group that “many millions could die between now and September” if vaccines are not more widely distributed across the globe.

Germany, France and Italy are among European countries that have committed to donating at least 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to middle and low-income countries before the end of the year, the group said.

They highlighted that the UK government has so far only committed to donating surplus shots in future to Covax, they said.

Matt Hancock has previously said that the UK “has probably done more than any other nation to help vaccinate the world’s poorest” through its support for the Oxford vaccine, which accounted for almost a third of the global number of coronavirus jabs administered as of 19 May.

He said the government had also donated more than £500m to Covax, which has delivered vaccines to 120 countries and territories.

In November, the UK government decided to cut spending on its annual foreign aid commitment from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income.

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Afghanistan: Three British men being held in Taliban custody – including ‘danger tourist’ who returned after army evacuation




Afghanistan: Three British men being held in Taliban custody - including 'danger tourist' who returned after army evacuation

Three British men are being held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan – including so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge who returned to the country after being evacuated by British armed forces less than two years ago.

The other two men are charity medic Kevin Cornwell and another unnamed UK national who manages a hotel in Kabul. They are believed to have been held by Taliban secret police since January.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said: “We are working hard to secure consular contact with British nationals detained in Afghanistan and we are supporting families.”

Mr Routledge, 23, has gained fame – and attracted controversy – by travelling to dangerous countries and posting about it online.

In August 2021 he was on a “holiday” in Afghanistan when he was caught up in the chaos in the capital as the Taliban took control of the country.

He chose the war-torn country having looked up a list of the most dangerous places to visit in the world, despite the Taliban taking control of more and more of the country at the time.

Mr Routledge thanked the British Army after he was among those evacuated during the Kabul airlift.

He appears to have returned to the country since then.

Kevin Cornwell
Kevin Cornwell has been held since January

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Mr Cornwell, 53, was arrested at his hotel by officers from the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) on 11 January.

He is accused of having an illegal firearm in the safe in his room, but his family say he had been granted a licence for the firearm.

The FCDO continues to advise UK citizens against all travel to Afghanistan based on the security risks involved, including the possibility of detention by the Taliban authorities.

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Yoghurt thrown over women in Iran for not covering their hair




Yoghurt thrown over women in Iran for not covering their hair

Two women in Iran who went into a store while not fully covering their hair had yoghurt thrown over them by a man, in an incident captured on video.

CCTV footage showing the “yoghurt attack”, believed to have taken place in the city of Shandiz in northeast Iran, has been spreading on social media.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi insisted that the hijab is the law in the country, in response to the widely shared clip.

It shows a man in a chequered shirt getting increasingly animated as he speaks to one of the women.

He is then seen grabbing a pot of what is believed to be yoghurt and throwing it over the pair before being confronted by another man and pushed out of the store.

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Following the incident, the two women have been arrested for not covering their hair, according to judicial authorities.

The man has also been arrested for insulting the women, public disorder and “unconventional promotion of virtue”.

Authorities said the owner of the dairy shop, who confronted the attacker, had also been warned.

Reports on social media showed his shop had been shut, although he was quoted by a local news agency as saying he had been allowed to reopen and was due to “give explanations” to a court.

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President Raisi said: “If some people say they don’t believe [in the hijab]… it’s good to use persuasion…

“But the important point is that there is a legal requirement… and the hijab is today a legal matter.”

Women in Iran had already been warned by the regime’s judiciary chief that they will be prosecuted “without mercy” if they are seen in public without a veil.

Following protests in recent months, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on Saturday: “Unveiling is tantamount to enmity with [our] values.

“Those who commit such anomalous acts will be punished and will be prosecuted without mercy.”

Iran has been rocked by huge waves of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in September.

The 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

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Women to be prosecuted ‘without mercy’ for not wearing veils, says Iran’s judiciary chief




Women to be prosecuted 'without mercy' for not wearing veils, says Iran's judiciary chief

Women will be prosecuted “without mercy” if they are seen in public without a veil, Iran’s judiciary chief has warned.

Following protests in recent months, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on Saturday: “Unveiling is tantamount to enmity with [our] values.

“Those who commit such anomalous acts will be punished and will be prosecuted without mercy.”

He did not specify what the punishment would be, but violations of state laws on hijabs have seen people face arrest, fines, imprisonment and even the death sentence.

Women across the country have been refusing to wear their headscarves following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.

Ms Amini had been arrested for allegedly breaking the law on headscarves and died in police custody.

Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini’s death sparked protests in Iran

Nationwide street protests were met with a severe police crackdown.

Human Rights Activists, a group that has been tracking the crackdown from inside Iran, has reported more than 19,700 people being arrested during the demonstrations.

Another group, Iran Human Rights (IHR) estimates that 500 of them, including 70 minors, were killed by the regime.

Previously, Mr Ejei said that 22,000 people arrested during recent protests have now been pardoned.

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Iran protesters speak about punishment

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Iranian women have now moved their fight online, with many posting videos of themselves with their hair and bodies exposed.

Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures.

Describing the veil as “one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation” and “one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic,” the interior ministry said in a statement on Thursday that there would be no “retreat or tolerance” on the issue.

The authorities are encouraging people to confront women who break hijab laws – something that has previously seen religious extremists physically attack them in public.

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