EU commits $1.4 million to fight polio in Syria

The European Commission said on Friday that it will provide approximately $1.4 million to UNICEF to support a polio vaccination campaign in Syria.

Because of the donation, approximately 2.5 million children less than 5 years of age will receive the vaccine.

"Syrians have experienced unbelievable hardship and deprivation over the past three year of this terrible conflict," Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, said. "The outbreak of polio last year was an additional blow, putting millions of children at risk. We are doing everything we can to protect children from this devastating disease. I hope that this additional funding will prolong the outreach of the polio vaccination campaign sufficiently to eradicate this horrendous disease."

Approximately 700,000 children less than 5 years of age live in hard-to-reach areas, and are at risk of contracting the disease.

The commission said it is ready to increase its support and give additional funding to the vaccination campaign if the need arises.

The World Health Organization confirmed in October that 10 cases of polio had been diagnosed in Northern Syria. WHO and UNICEF began vaccination campaigns in coordination with the Ministries of Health in countries hosting Syrians. The organizations targeted 23 million children less than 5 years of age.

The EC has donated money to water and sanitation projects inside Syria, as well as WHO and UNICEF polio programs.