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Estonia Supports Fight Against Polio Brought About By Syrian Crisis

02.01.2014

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting the activity of the World Health Organization (WHO) in preventing the spread of polio in Syria and the broader region.

The Syrian armed conflict, which began in spring 2011, has created a humanitarian crisis that has grown to become one of the largest and most widespread contemporary regional humanitarian catastrophes.
According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, it is extremely important to put an end to the Syrian civil war, which has affected more than 9.3 million people inside Syria. “The number of internally displaced people has grown to 6.5 million and the number of refugees in neighbouring countries has increased to 2.3 million, the majority of which are in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey,” noted Paet. “It is necessary to continue exerting pressure to ensure access of international humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers in Syrian areas and also to support neighbouring countries which are accepting Syrian refugees,” he added.

While according to official data polio has not existed in Syria since 1999, a WHO report in October 2013 confirmed the resurgence of the sickness. As of the end of November, there were 17 registered cases of polio in Syria. In connection with the acute humanitarian crisis in the region, there is a very high risk of the massive spread of the polio virus and because of this the WHO and UNICEF have begun, together with many other aid organisations, a broad-based children’s vaccination campaign.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, it will be necessary to vaccinate 22 million children under 5 years of age in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Palestine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting the WHO with 100,000 Euros to implement the vaccination programme and block the spread of polio.

Altogether, Estonia has contributed nearly 900,000 Euros in the last two years to alleviate the effects of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

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