UNICEF, the UN children’s fund, says the recent calm in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has allowed hundreds of thousands of children to be immunized against polio.
Christian Balslev-Olesen, a UNICEF representative for Somalia, spoke from Nairobi with VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the vaccination campaign in the Somali capital. He estimates that about 99% of Mogadishu’s children under five have been vaccinated against the disease. That’s about 286,000 children. Balslev-Olesen says humanitarian agencies have rarely had such open access.
“In the past, we were not able to reach out to 100% of children for a number of reasons. Security. It was not easy to access each and every family. It was difficult for us to monitor the thousands of people, the volunteers, who did the campaign. And it was a difficult situation to plan because we didn’t know what tomorrow will bring. But the latest campaign in Mogadishu seems to be much more successful because the security has improved. We have access to all parts of Mogadishu and it seems we have been able to reach nearly 100% of all children in Mogadishu.” He says UNICEF will intensify its immunization campaigns in Somalia in the coming months.