Damascus, 24 October 2013 – A UNICEF charter plane carrying urgently-needed vaccines and complementary food for children in Syria has arrived in Beirut. Supplies will be moved by truck into Syria.
The cargo plane contained more than 53 metric tonnes of supplies, including 265,000 doses of Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccines, and Supercereal Plus, a complementary fortified food for children 6-23 months of age.
The vaccines are needed to replenish supplies being used in the Ministry of Health-led vaccination campaign currently underway in Syria. Kuwait has generously supported the purchase of essential life-saving vaccines for Syria and the provision of cold-chain equipment, including cold rooms.
“The campaign is especially important because it is reaching children who have already missed out on their routine vaccinations,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Syria Representative.
“Delivery of the vaccines by air was the fastest option in this case. In turn, the supercereal will help to meet urgent nutritional needs amongst some of Syria’s most vulnerable young infants.”
As the conflict continues in Syria, the nutritional status of some children is becoming increasingly precarious. Hospitals visited by UNICEF staff are reporting an upward trend in the number of children being admitted with moderate and severe acute malnutrition compared to two years ago. Reports from partners in areas including Rural Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs confirm this trend.
“The stresses associated with displacement and the impact of rising food prices, along with lack of access to food in some areas, has already compromised children’s nutritional status. The approaching winter is expected to worsen the situation further,” said Abdel-Jelil.
The Supercereal Plus consignment airlifted to Beirut contains wheat and soya beans and is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Superceral Plus is mixed into a nutritious porridge for children whose growth and development are at a critical stage. UNICEF Syria, together with partners, will be targeting 50,000 children over the next three months to benefit from this nutrition programme in some of the worst-affected areas in Syria.
For more information:
David Youngmeyer, UNICEF Syria, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +962 79 632 6780
Razan Rashidi, UNICEF Syria, email@example.com, Mob: +963 93 354 9020
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mob: +962 79 590 4740