05:00 GMT +314 October 2019
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    Syrian refugee Mohammed Sammor, 3, receives vaccination against polio (File)

    Syria Violence Stalls Vaccine Program Threatening 1Mln Children

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    A suspension of a mass vaccination program in Syria due to fighting and violence across the war torn state poses a threat to the lives of over a million children, according to World Health Organization.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Fighting and violence across Syria is forcing a halt to a mass vaccination program, threatening the lives of one million children, top officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned.

    "As fighting and violence escalate across Syria, we risk losing the opportunity to vaccinate and save the lives of more than one million children," WHO Regional Director Dr. Ala Alwan and UNICEF Regional Director Dr. Peter Salama warned in a joint statement on Wednesday.

    Because of a sharp increase in attacks on health personnel and facilities in the Syrian city of Idleb, the immunization campaign there has been temporarily halted amid fears to the safety of health workers and the local population, Alwan and Salama explained.

    Similar reports were received from other areas in Syria, further jeopardizing the vaccination campaign, the health chiefs noted.

    "On 1 June, a UNICEF supported clinic in the city of Aleppo was hit, injuring over 40 people among them a pregnant woman who lost her baby," Alwan and Salama stated.

    Since the beginning of 2016, there have been reports of attacks on 17 health care facilities across Syria. Only one third of hospitals currently function in the country, the joint statement noted.

    "Attacks on health facilities are increasing in frequency and scale. Such attacks are blatant violations of International Humanitarian Law. Health workers, patients and health facilities must be protected, and civilians allowed unrestricted access to urgently needed health services," the statement maintained.

    WHO and UNICEF appealed to all parties involved in the conflict in Syria to end the violence, so that health workers could resume the vaccination campaign in safety, Alwan and Salama added.


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    Syrian conflict, vaccination, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), Syria
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