Syria/Iraq: Polio Outbreak - Oct 2013
On 28 Oct 2013, the Minister of Health of the Syrian Arab Republic announced that, after a 15-year absence, polio had returned to the Middle East. Thirteen cases were confirmed from Syria's Deir Al Zour province. The occurrence of an outbreak reflects declining immunization rates due to the severe interruption of public health services and to the conditions in which the people are living. A comprehensive outbreak response will need to be implemented across the region, with seven countries and territories to conduct mass polio vaccination campaigns targeting more than 22 million children aged under 5 years. (Strategic Plan for Polio Outbreak Response in the Middle East)
As of 8 Feb 2014, 17 confirmed polio cases had been reported from Syria's Deir ez-Zour Governorate, three from Aleppo Governorate, one from Al. Hasakeh Governorate and two from Idleb Governorate (WHO/UNICEF, 8 Feb 2014).
By 20 Mar, a total of 37 cases had been reported: 25 cases by the Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Health, and 12 cases from contested areas (Aleppo, Edleb and Deir Al Zour) not yet reflected in official figures. The most recent case had onset of paralysis on 17 Dec 2013. Further evidence of regional spread was confirmed by notification of a case from Iraq, the first polio case in the country since 2000. The case, a six-month old boy from Baghdad who had not been immunized, developed paralysis on 10 Feb 2014. Genetic sequencing indicates the virus is most closely related to virus detected in the Syrian Arab Republic. (WHO, 21 Mar 2014)
By 8 Oct, three cases had been reported in the Middle East with onset of paralysis in 2014 - two in Iraq and one in Syria. The most recent case reported from Iraq occurred in Mada'in district, Baghdad-Resafa province, with onset of paralysis on 7 Apr. Syria’s most recent case had onset of paralysis on 21 Jan. The fact that six months had passed with no new cases being reported indicates that transmission of the virus has been interrupted. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 8 Oct 2014)
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· In Syria, as part of the Back to Learning Campaign, UNICEF distributed essential learning supplies including schoolbags, textbooks and stationary to 428,315 children, including 5,732 textbooks to children living in a besieged area of Deir-Ez-Zour city. So far this year, UNICEF has distributed learning supplies to 578,000 children.
The humanitarian community now estimates that 13.5 million people in Syria need protection and humanitarian assistance, including 6 million children. 8.7 million people are unable to meet their basic food needs, and 70 per cent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water. Health facilities, schools, and other essential services across the country are operating at reduced capacity or closed. 6.5 million people are internally displaced in Syria due to the conflict
In response to persisting severe water shortages in Aleppo, UNICEF continued to truck 10,000 m3 of water per day, reaching 700,000 people, while continuing to develop alternative water supply modalities.
• In Syria, the 10th national polio vaccination campaign was carried out from 15-19 February, 2015. 2,989,659 children under five were vaccinated against polio including over 60,000 children in hard to reach areas, and 1,790 children reached for the first time in Homs, Dara’a, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Lattakia, Deir Ezzor and Qunietra.
• In Iraq, since January 2015, 92,787 Syrian refugees were able to access to safe drinking water in the camps, mostly through sustainable water systems.
As Syria crisis enters fifth year, more support urged for young adolescents
New York/Amman, 12 March 2015. Some 14 million children across the region are now suffering from the escalating conflict sweeping Syria and much of Iraq, said UNICEF today.
· Across the region, UNICEF vaccinated over 25 million children against polio including 2.9 million children in Syria alone resulting in the successful containment of the disease.
· UNICEF and partners provided water treatment chemicals to clean water for the network that reached 16.5 million people inside Syria, and has provided 2.1 million people with safe drinking water in host communities and camps in neighbouring countries
In December, the regular Health Sector Coordination Meeting was held in Gaziantep, chaired by WHO and co-chaired by UNHCR. Experts from WHO Europe and Public Health Institute of the Turkish MoH carried out a polio review mission between 30 November and 6 December in the following provinces: Adana, Istanbul, Erzurum, Samsun and Diyarbakir. WHO and Gaziantep University are in preparation for refugee nurses / midwife training which is planned to be conducted in near future.
UNICEF sector leads in WASH, Education, Nutrition and Child Protection Working Group provided leadership in developing the 2015 Strategic Response Plan (SRP) for Syria which will officially be launched in December 2014. The humanitarian response articulated in SRP is within the framework of the Whole of Syria approach, which is bringing together humanitarian actors working from inside Syria or neighbouring countries for the first time, aimed at increasing the overall effectiveness of the response.
Heightened insecurity in northern Syria has resulted in fresh displacement of Syrian refugees into Turkey and Iraq, as well as internal displacement inside Syria. The insecurity has impacted on the humanitarian situation in northern Syria, limiting access. Meanwhile the Syrian civil war continues unabated, as witnessed by explosions near two elementary schools in Homs city on 1st October killing 29 children and injuring 37 more.
During August 2014, experts from UNHCR and MoH continued to inspect the constructions of the 10 prefabricated health clinics, 2 of which are expected to be delivered in September 2014.
As the conflict in Syria continues unabated, there are now over 3 million refugees from Syria across Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. Over 50 per cent of the Syrian refugees are children.
The crisis in Iraq is compounding the humanitarian situation in neighboring countries. There are now 5,000 Iraqi refugees in a camp in Al-Hassakeh region in Syria, and 16,000 Iraqi refugees in the south-eastern Turkish province of Sirnak who require humanitarian assistance.
By Ruth Ansah Ayisi
For young Syrian children who fled the conflict in their home country, a UNICEF-supported preschool programme in Egypt helps give them stability and the chance for a new future.
CAIRO, Egypt, 22 September 2014 – As his kindergarten teacher coaxes Oudi to talk about his favourite activity, the 4-year-old twists his fingers and stares straight past her, fixing his large eyes on something only he can see.
According to estimates of OCHA, over 1.8 million people are estimated to be displaced countrywide since January 2014.
After temporary disruption of most ongoing water trucking activities in the North of Iraq, due to armed conflict, UNICEF is supporting the Dahuk Water Directorate with the daily provision of 67 water trucks across Dahuk Governorate, serving 80,500 IDPs in schools, settlements, unfinished buildings, and within the host communities.
UNICEF, in partnership with WHO and the MoH, conducted the national polio campaign from August 10th till August 17th in 12 governorates of Iraq. Areas that have recently experienced violence, including the city of Mosul and Anbar Governorate, have implemented the campaign successfully and reached a minimum of 3,482,092 children under 5 years of age (final numbers to be confirmed).
The Mid-Year Review of the sixth Regional Refugee Plan (RRP6) has been completed, and the expected refugee burden in 2014 has been revised down to 3.59 million from 4.1 million. Revisions are in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
On 14 July 2014 the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution permitting UN agencies to deliver humanitarian aid into Syria across four border crossings.
1,500,000 Syrian refugees
1,500,000 Affected Lebanese
55,000 Palestine refugees from Syria
50,000 Lebanese returnees
Consequences of Underfunding
With a 50% reduction in funding, many refugees and vulnerable Lebanese will be forced to resort to harmful behaviour to survive, such as child labour, survival sex, early marriage, skipping meals and begging.
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in March 2011, approximately 2,697,808 refugees have fled into neighbouring countries. Jordan hosts some 589,792 refugees.1 Al Za'atari refugee camp2 opened in July 2012 and has since received a large influx of displaced populations from Syria. The camp is housing 104,494 refugees,3
In May 2014, the construction of 3 more pre-fab health facilities, procured by UNHCR started in Reyhanli, Nusaybin and Kahramanmaras which brings the total number of constructions ongoing to 10 (out of 10 planned). 7 of the pre-fab facilities currently under construction in Ceylanpinar, Viransehir, Adiyaman, Akcakale, Kilis-Oncupinar camps and Ceylanpinar and Nizip urban areas are expected to be finalized as end of June.