DAMASCUS, 29 October 2013 - Following 'businesslike and encouraging' discussions, senior Syrian officials and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake agreed on the importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of war-torn Syria with life-saving vaccines, including those against polio, as Mr Lake ended a two-day visit to Damascus.
The need to immunize every child quickly and without obstacle was a key focus of Mr. Lake's discussions with Syrian Prime Minister Wael Al Halqi, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Faisal Miqdad, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hosam Eddin A'ala.
"Immunizing children is in its very nature non-political and has no connection to any military considerations," said Mr. Lake. "With cases of polio now emerging in Syria for the first time since 1999, reaching every child with polio and other vaccinations is an urgent and critical priority not only for Syria but for the whole world."
In a meeting with frontline volunteers from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) Mr. Lake expressed on behalf of UNICEF his admiration for all the work SARC volunteers are doing, their courage, and the sacrifices they have made in this cause.
With SARC and with national and other partners UNICEF will be working to reach the more than 500,000 children who have not been reached with vaccinations due to the conflict in some of the hardest to reach parts of the country.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information:
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF New York, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +1 917 310 8969
Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, email@example.com, Mob: +962 79 867 4628
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF New York, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +1-646-209-1590
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