Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pakistan: Fresh Attacks On WHO/UNICEF Polio Workers

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In the wake of yesterday’s horrendous attacks (see Pakistan: 6 Polio Workers Murdered) there are fresh reports this morning of new attacks on WHO/UNICEF  polio vaccination workers, and according to Reuters, at least two more deaths.

 

Three more polio workers shot in Pakistan; eight dead in 48 hours

By Jibran Ahmad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan | Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:22am GMT

(Reuters) - Three workers in a polio eradication campaign were shot in Pakistan on Wednesday, and two of them were killed, the latest in an unprecedented string of attacks over the past three days that has partially halted the U.N.-backed campaign.

 

The United Nations in Pakistan has pulled all staff involved in the campaign off the streets, spokesman Michael Coleman said.

 

(Continue . . .)

 

There are slightly differing reports (CBS News cites 7 deaths), but what is evident is that these coordinated attacks are ongoing.

 

The World Health Organization and UNICEF issued the following joint statement yesterday, before the latest round of attacks.

 

 

WHO and UNICEF condemn attacks on health workers in Pakistan

Joint WHO/UNICEF Statement
18 December 2012

WHO and UNICEF join the Government of Pakistan and the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in condemning the multiple attacks that have killed six health workers in the past 24 hours.

 

At least six people working on a polio vaccination campaign have been reported shot dead in several locations in Pakistan - Gadap, Landi, Baldia and Orangi towns of Karachi city, Sindh Province and Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Those killed were among thousands who work selflessly across Pakistan to eradicate polio.

 

The Government of Pakistan and the affected provinces have temporarily suspended the vaccination campaign due to concerns over safety of health workers.

 

Such attacks deprive Pakistan’s most vulnerable populations – especially children – of basic life-saving health interventions. We call on the leaders of the affected communities and everyone concerned to do their utmost to protect health workers and create a secure environment so that we can meet the health needs of the children of Pakistan.

 

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. Safe and effective vaccines protect children from the disease. Currently the disease remains endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

 

WHO, UNICEF and all their partners in Pakistan and globally express their deepest sympathy to the families of the health workers. We remain committed to supporting the Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan in their efforts to rid the country of polio and other diseases.

 

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