THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Polio immunization campaign begins in Iraq

Iraq, in partnership with the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund, launched a four-day campaign on Monday to combat polio.

The immunization effort is aimed at protecting more than four million children in the country against the disease, which recently reemerged after a 14-year absence.

"This campaign comes at a critical time while the country is witnessing a huge internal exodus of children fleeing violence and turmoil," Marzio Babille, the UNICEF representative in Iraq, said. "This is a top priority for UNICEF. No child should be missed. No child should be paralyzed."

The campaign will seek to reach children in conflict zones, displaced communities and host populations. Violence in Iraq displaced approximately 1.2 million people in the last year, with more than 200,000 in the last week.

"As the violence spreads, children are being displaced up to three times with their families, often living in overcrowded conditions where they are at a much higher risk of contracting infectious diseases," Syed Jaffar Hussain, the WHO representative in Iraq, said.

The WHO and UNICEF campaign will unfold in 12 regions of Iraq, including Kurdistan, where approximately 250,000 Iraqi and 125,000 Syrian children have fled.

Two cases of polio have been recorded in Iraq this year.