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Up to 100 children die from tainted measles vaccine — Syrian ambassador to UN

September 18, 2014, 12:08 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

UNICEF has confirmed only 15 deaths

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© AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

UNITED NATIONS, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Some 100 children have died in the Syrian opposition-controlled areas of the north-western Idlib province where the UN measles vaccination campaign was held, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari said on Wednesday.

Earlier media reports suggested 40 children died following measles vaccination.

The diplomat told Itar-Tass that he had information about the death of 100 children. Jaafari said the tainted vaccine was made in Turkey. He said Syria urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to investigate the incident.

The Syrian ambassador to the UN put the blame for the children’s death on UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos. He said the tragedy occurred through Amos’ fault because she insisted on co-operating with the terrorists in that region.

Itar-Tass correspondent Dmitry Zelenin reported from Beirut that children’s immunisation against measles started three days ago. It was held by the so-called interim government, formed by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCR) with assistance of Turkish authorities and WHO. After several dozen children died, the NCR announced the suspension of children’s immunisation campaign, launched two days ago.

However, the Syrian ambassador claims the immunisation of children continues.

UN head’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Wednesday that the UN Children’s Fund (UNCEF) and WHO were shocked by the reports of children’s death in Syria’s Idlib province. However, he said, UNICEF has confirmed only 15 deaths. Haq said UNICEF and WHO were “deeply concerned” and awaiting further clarification. He confirmed the immunisation campaign was held with support of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN deputy spokesman also said, “Measles is a major threat to children in Syria and the campaigns are vital ... and especially important for children who've been away from their homes and communities and are living in camps or in other unsanitary conditions.

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