The World Health Organization on Friday said it had received reports of an attack on medical facilities in eastern Syria that had destroyed a store containing more than 130,000 vaccine doses against measles and polio.
If confirmed, the WHO said, the attack would put thousands of children at risk of these serious infectious, viral diseases. Both can spread rapidly in areas of conflict.
“We unequivocally condemn these actions. Vaccines are not a legitimate target of war,” the WHO’s representative in Syria, Elizabeth Hoff, said in a statement issued late on Friday.
The WHO said the reports it received were of an attack on a vaccine cold room at health facilities in al-Mayadin, near Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria. The WHO did not say whether the reports it received gave any detail on who carried out the reported attack.
The store had held 100,000 doses of measles vaccine, 35,000 doses of polio vaccine, plus syringes and other equipment.
The WHO previously tackled a polio outbreak in the same area of Syria in 2013-2014. It also said that in its last polio vaccination campaign in Deir al-Zor it reached more than 252,000 babies and children.
The UN health agency previously said that it had recorded 17 cases of polio since March 2017. As many as 15 cases of the disease have been confirmed since WHO announced the first outbreak of the disease in Syria in early 2014. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Al-Hayat Newspaper)