SYRIA: Inter-Agency Mission to Mouadamiyah, Rural Damascus
- UNICEF this week participated in a cross-line mission to Mouadamiyah al-Sham in Rural Damascus as part of a four-day UN interagency mission to the area which began on 14 July.
- This is a significant and a welcome break-through in improving access. This was the first time UNICEF was able to reach Mouadamiyah – just 8 KMs from Damascus – since 2012.
- The town, with a population of 20,000, has essentially been under siege since August last year. UNICEF estimates there are 9,200 children in desperate need of medical, hygiene and nutritional supplies.
- On education: Children in the area have been out of school for the past two years. The primary concern of parents is getting their children back into local schools. One child told the UNICEF team, “I thought I hated school but after not going there for this long, I admit I love school.”
- On health: Medical supplies are running out in the area. Many families informed UNICEF staff that they have not had essential medicines for months on end. Mothers were concerned that their children were not receiving regular immunization. Medical teams also expressed concerns over fuel shortages making it difficult to maintain the vaccine cold chain.
- On supplies: Thanks to the goodwill and cooperation from parties to the conflict, UNICEF has so far been able to provide much needed supplies directly to children and their families including 500 super cereal bags, 500 new born kits and 40,000 soap bars.
- Two mobile clinics from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) were permitted to join the convoy on Monday and Wednesday, providing approximately 800 people, including several hundred children, with much needed medical treatment.
- However, we are disappointed that the Government of Syria missed a significant opportunity to allow us to take medicine for children on this convoy including the much needed Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).
- The Ministry of Health and SARC provided 1,000 polio doses to the area and 1,000 measles in addition to routine vaccines. This is extremely important given that polio has reemerged in Syria and children in Mouadamiyah have not been reached with enough doses.
- A polio vaccination campaign and routine catch up campaign have already started. Parents and caregivers will be able to take their children to the SARC clinic to be vaccinated against polio. Polio vaccination to children in the area must be given six times in line with other areas in Syria.