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Gurkhas: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN HL1539, tabled on 29 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider the differential treatment of the vaccination of British Army Gurkha Veterans living in Nepal compared to their UK based counterparts as a breach of the Armed Forces Covenant.

Answered on

6 July 2021

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Nepal during this pandemic. The UK has an enduring defence relationship with Nepal and their Armed Forces.

We were one of the first countries to send life-saving medical equipment to Nepal, including 260 ventilators and thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment, to help the country’s fight against Covid-19. The UK is also one of the leading donors to COVAX, having committed £548million to the scheme. COVAX has allocated 2,000,000 vaccine doses to Nepal, of which 348,000 have already been delivered and we understand another tranche will arrive by August.

UK aid to the Gurkha Welfare Trust has also ensured access to life-saving support and supplies to Gurkha veterans and their communities throughout the pandemic. Their distinguished service is a source of immense pride in both our countries.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation that those who serve, or have served, in the Armed Forces, and their families, will be treated fairly and will not be disadvantaged in accessing public and commercial goods and services in the UK as a result of their military service.

The Covenant is there for the Armed Forces Community as a whole, which includes everyone who has previously served in the UK Armed Forces. But the purpose of the Covenant is to address disadvantage that is attributable to the effects of someone’s time in service. Disadvantage in this context principally concerns access to goods and services available in the UK, and it is usually measured in comparison to the levels of access enjoyed by the local civilian population