Syria government vows to vaccinate all children - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Syria government vows to vaccinate all children

Posted: Updated:
Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com Photo Credit: MGNOnline.com

By ALBERT AJI and DIAA HADID
Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - A senior Syrian official vowed Monday that authorities would vaccinate the country's children against polio after 10 cases emerged in the northeast, saying the government would work with international organizations to ensure even rebel-held areas were reached.

A week earlier, the United Nations health agency confirmed the first outbreak of the disease in the country in 14 years, raising a risk of it spreading throughout the region. The confirmed cases are among babies and toddlers who were "under-immunized," according to the World Health Organization.

"We intend to vaccinate each Syrian child regardless of the area they are present in, whether it is a hotspot or a place where the Syrian Arab Army is present," deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters in Damascus. "We promise that we will give opportunity to humanitarian organizations to reach every Syrian child."

Mekdad did not say, however, when the vaccination campaign would begin or how exactly it would reach rebel-held areas.

Aid groups have called for cease-fires to allow immunization campaigns. Syria's warring parties have held truces before to allow civilians to flee and aid to enter some areas.

The polio virus usually infects children in unsanitary conditions through consuming food or drink contaminated with feces. It attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze, spreading widely and unnoticed before it starts crippling children.

The minister also defended the government against claims they were blockading rebel-held areas. He said there had been attempts to extend food and supplies to civilians in certain areas under rebel control.

Mekdad also noted that Syrian rebels were blockading villages considered loyal to the government of President Bashar Assad, including Nubul and Zahra in the northern Aleppo province.

Hard-line Sunni rebels blockade those two Shiite-dominated villages.

Sectarianism is increasingly on the rise in Syria's three-year conflict.

On Monday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck in a central Shiite Syrian village, killing six people, state media reported.

Three children and a woman were among the dead in the early morning bombing at a school in Sabtiyeh, near the city of Homs, official news agency SANA said.

Footage aired on state television showed panicked residents rushing to ambulances carrying wounded children.

"What did these children do to be killed?" a man angrily shouted.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast, but such bombings are the hallmark of al-Qaida linked groups who have joined Syrian rebels battling to overthrow the Assad's rule.

Syria's war began as mostly peaceful demonstrations but transformed into an armed rebellion after government troops violently suppressed demonstrations. The country is formed of a mosaic of different sects, and the conflict has largely split it along sectarian lines. Rebels are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, while Christians and other Muslim sects have for the most part either stood with Assad's government or remained neutral or involved in peaceful activism.

Hard-line Sunni brigades, some formed of foreign fighters, have powerful fighting units. Shiite fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and from Iraq have shored up Assad's forces, in part to protect their minority and holy sites in Syria.

All warring sides have used sectarian incitement and have blockaded civilians in villages seen as loyal to their adversaries.

But attacks specifically targeting civilians of other sects are infrequent, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the uprising through a network of activists on the ground.

Abdurrahman said he believed the Shiite village was targeted because of its sectarian affiliation since no fighting had been reported there previously, adding that it is known for having good relations with nearby Sunni communities.

Syria's Shiite Muslims form a tiny minority scattered in villages, making them particularly vulnerable.

___

Hadid reported from Beirut.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Rapides crash kills Pineville man

    Rapides crash kills Pineville man

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:37 PM EDT2014-04-21 00:37:35 GMT
    RAPIDES PARISH (KALB News Channel 5) -- A crash involving two vehicles killed a man from Pineville, LA Sunday morning.More >>
    RAPIDES PARISH (KALB News Channel 5) -- A crash involving two vehicles killed a man from Pineville, LA Sunday morning.More >>
  • Local music star comes home

    Local music star comes home

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:46:08 GMT
    Crystal HoytCrystal Hoyt
    CHENEYVILLE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Crystal Hoyt has shared the stage with country music stars like Miranda Lambert and Big and Rich. She has also went on tour for three years with Toby Keith.Now Hoyt has traveled back to her hometown of Cheneyville to a crowd she never expected.More >>
    CHENEYVILLE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Crystal Hoyt has shared the stage with country music stars like Miranda Lambert and Big and Rich. She has also went on tour for three years with Toby Keith.Now Hoyt has traveled back to her hometown of Cheneyville to a crowd she never expected.More >>
  • Massive Traffic Crash on I-10 in Beaumont, TX

    Massive Traffic Crash on I-10 in Beaumont, TX

    (Beaumont, TX- KBMT) Interstate 10 remains closed in both directions between Taylor Bayou and Hamshire Road (at Mile Marker 835) in Beaumont, Texas, because of a multiple vehicle accident with numerousMore >>
    (Beaumont, TX) - Investigators believe fog is to blame for a massive pile-up on Interstate-10 involving more than 100 vehicles on Thanksgiving Day. At least two people were killed and dozens of injuries have been reported.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KALB. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.