UNICEF, Partners Step Up Measles Immunization Campaign In Middle East; U.K. Provides Funding For WFP Work In Region

UNICEF and its partners “have stepped up vaccination campaigns in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey amid measles outbreaks in a region already struggling to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by ongoing conflict in Syria,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/30). According to VOA News, UNICEF “reports hundreds of cases of measles have broken out among children in [the five countries] over the past year.” UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said, “[T]hese outbreaks have been contained thus far in Syria and across the region. In large part, also because of an immunization campaign last year that reached 1.3 million children with measles vaccination and 1.5 million children with polio vaccination,” the news agency notes. However, she added, “[T]he concern is very real. These are conditions that are conducive to the spread of disease and things are not getting any better for the Syrians either inside of the country or outside,” according to VOA. Mercado said security concerns are hindering the reach of health care workers, but “[d]espite such setbacks, she says health workers are continuing their campaign to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of Syrian children against measles throughout the region,” the news service writes (Schlein, 4/30).

“Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) [on Tuesday] welcomed a generous contribution of around $43 million from the United Kingdom that will help provide much-needed food assistance to tens of thousands of Syrians both inside and outside their country,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agency will also use the funds to issue food vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees who are either sheltering in camps in Turkey or as urban refugees in Lebanon,” the news service adds, noting, “The agency must raise $19 million each week to provide food assistance to 2.5 million hungry people inside Syria and more than one million refugees in neighboring countries” (4/30).