The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced the start of the national polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan on Monday, the first time in three years that the agency has prepared a nationwide initiative with the added value of being the first that takes place after the Taliban conquest of the country.
In fact, UNICEF hopes to reach more than three million children who have been left without receiving the vaccine because they are in places inaccessible to aid workers by order of the Taliban or due to the difficulties of the conflict.
In total, the fund aims to vaccinate nearly 10 million children under the age of five against a virus that is still endemic in Afghanistan and threatens young children with paralysis or death.
The campaign has been negotiated with the current Taliban leaders, who now seem to have put aside their mistrust of the aid workers, who have been prevented from doing their work on many occasions on the suspicion that they could be gathering information for the enemy.
“The urgency with which the Taliban leaders want the campaign against polio to continue demonstrates a joint commitment to maintaining the health system and restarting the protocol of essential vaccines to avoid new outbreaks of preventable diseases,” said the regional director of the World Health Organization for the Eastern Mediterranean, Ahmed Al Mandhari.
The Taliban leadership, according to the WHO, has expressed its “commitment to the inclusion of frontline workers” and to “providing and ensuring the safety of all health workers throughout the country.”
CHILDREN IN DANGER
However, UNICEF has taken the opportunity to lament that at least 460 children have died in Afghanistan during the first six months of the year due to the upswing in violence in the country during the Taliban offensive that finally led to their conquest of the country, on August 15. .
The latest balance, collected by the Afghan network Tolo News, laments cases such as the deaths of “nine members of a family, including four girls and two boys,” who were reportedly killed on Thursday morning, “when an explosive remnant war detonated inside a house in Kunduz. ”
“We are concerned about the number of children killed by explosive devices so far this year. The death of a child is heartbreaking,” said Samantha Mort, UNICEF chief of communication, advocacy and civic engagement.