Statement attributable to the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, on the occasion of World Polio Day
Khartoum, 24 October 2013. World Polio Day (24 October) provides an important opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of eradicating polio globally. Sudan was recently declared polio free, but since April 2013 the virus has re-appeared in east Africa. There is a risk that the virus may spread into Sudan. South Kordofan and Blue Nile states are of particular concern, as no polio vaccination programmes have been undertaken in areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) since the military conflict began in 2011.
Over the last few months the World Health Organization and UNICEF have put in place plans to deliver a polio vaccination campaign for children under-five years of age in areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile that are controlled by the SPLM-N. It is vital that every effort is made to ensure that this campaign goes ahead in November as planned. In this light, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za'tari, welcomes the official confirmation received today of the Government of Sudan’s agreement for a polio vaccination campaign to commence in these areas on 5 November. “Sudan’s future lies in the health of its children. This is an opportunity for all parties to put children’s health before politics and to ensure that this campaign goes ahead without delay,” said Al-Za’tari.