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UN investigates children deaths after measles vaccination in Syrian

September 18, 2014, 11:12 UTC+3 GENEVA

As many as 15 children died in Syria after a vaccination campaign organized by the Syrian opposition forces

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Syrian girl weeps after receiving the measles vaccine from a UNICEF nurse

Syrian girl weeps after receiving the measles vaccine from a UNICEF nurse

© AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File

GENEVA, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have initiated the investigation into the death of 15 children in Syria who were vaccinated against measles. UNICEF and WHO said in a joint statement on Wednesday they suspended the vaccination campaign.

The measles campaign was organized by the Syrian opposition forces - the so-called interim government, created by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.

“UNICEF and WHO have been shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of at least 15 young children in Idlib, Syria. The deaths of the children occurred in areas where a measles immunisation campaign had been under way,” the statement says.

“Establishing the precise cause of the children’s deaths is vital. To that end, the WHO has deployed a team of experts to provide assistance to those carrying out the investigation in Idlib who will report back as soon as possible. WHO is also providing advice and protocols for the investigation of adverse events following immunisation.”

“For as long as the facts remain unclear, the suspension of the immunisation campaign in both Idlib and Deir Ezzour provinces is a wise step,” the statement says.

According to the WHO and UNICEF, “However, it is vital that immunisation efforts against measles - a disease which is a leading killer of children worldwide - resume as soon as possible. Measles is a particular threat to children who have been displaced from their homes and communities, and who are living in camps or other insanitary conditions.”

The Al Mayadeen TV channel claimed that not 15, but 40 children that were under two years of age, died, developing severe poisoning symptoms following the immunisation shot.

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