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UN-backed campaign to immunize 800,000 children launched in Iraq

UN-backed campaign to immunize 800,000 children launched in Iraq

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 21 (PNA/Xinhua) — Federal and regional authorities in Iraq, together with the UN Children’s fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have launched a 12-day campaign to immunize some 800,000 children under the age of five against polio, rubella and measles, a UN spokesman told reporters here Tuesday.

“The campaign started on 19 December and targets children in Anbar, Salahaddin, and Kirkuk governorates, as well as newly retaken areas in Ninewah governorate, including displaced children living in camps,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

The campaign forms part of the vaccination strategy in the context of the ongoing Mosul operations; some 45,000 children affected by the Mosul operations will be receiving vaccines. Iraq was removed from the list of polio-infected countries in May 2015, but there remain resurgence risks due to surveillance and immunization coverage gaps in conflict zones, the spokesman said.

“This will be the first time in two years that some of these children are receiving vaccines,” Dujarric said.

On Oct. 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, announced the start of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city, in a bid to liberate the northern Iraqi city, the last major Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Iraq.

Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. (PNA/Xinhua)

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