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UN pursues anti-polio drive in Afghanistan despite insecurity

UN pursues anti-polio drive in Afghanistan despite insecurity

A United Nations drive to immunize millions of Afghan children against polio is going well despite the poor security situation in the country, according to a spokesman for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), which is at the forefront of the effort.

"We are told through our network of field officers inside Afghanistan that there has been very little disruption so far in the immunization activities because of military action in Afghanistan, while in Pakistan, the immunization of 30 million children is proceeding well," spokesman Chulho Hyun told reporters in Islamabad.

"Just as importantly, particularly for the children of Afghanistan, millions are receiving doses of Vitamin A drops - a critical boost to the immune system," the spokesman noted. "This boost is even more important at a time when the general delivery of aid to Afghanistan has been disrupted by a combination of access difficulties, bombardment, fear, general insecurity, rumour, population displacement, serious lapses in communication and other elements that make it difficult for Afghans to know what tomorrow brings."

The tense security situation has affected the UN's work, particularly in Kandahar, where several UN offices remain occupied by local Taliban authorities. Three NGOs there have reported that their office equipment and vehicles have been seized, while an NGO providing health services to people in Kandahar City had two of its ambulances destroyed in the US-led air strike, according to the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan.