UN vaccination campaign in Sudan delayed

Fears of risk of disease increase as UN polio vaccination campaign in South Sudan put on hold as government and rebels disagree on whether to have a final meeting

UN vaccination campaign in Sudan delayed

World Bulletin/News Desk

An estimated 165,000 children in South Sudan will not be vaccinated against polio as the South Sudanese government and rebels - who had both agreed to the immunization campaign - disagreed over whether another meeting was needed.

John Ging, director of operations at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Khartoum and the rebels had reached a technical agreement on how a polio vaccination campaign would be conducted in South Kordofan and Blue Nile during a planned November 5-12 ceasefire.

"But in the end SPLM-North insisted on a final meeting to have final discussions - both sides have been past masters at always needing to have another round of discussion - and on this occasion the government of Sudan said no ... and that's where the impasse then arose," Ging told reporters in New York.

"The UN agreed there wasn't any need for further meetings, but at the same time of course if that's what it takes to get the vaccination campaign to happen then we'll have a further meeting," Ging said.

Ging, who briefed the UN Security Council on the situation on Monday, said if the United Nations were given the green light for the campaign, the world body could be on the ground the following day and able to vaccinate the 165,000 children in those two states in just four days.

Ging expressed great frustration at the "filibustering" and finger-pointing by both sides that are having a serious impact on efforts to eradicate polio.

For the last 18 months, the UN has also been unable to get humanitarian aid to 800,000 people in Blue Nile and South Kordofan because of similar issues, he said.

"We the international community have failed the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile," Ging said.

Last Mod: 12 Kasım 2013, 13:48
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