UNICEF: More than 1 million polio vaccines destroyed in Sudan

GENEVA (Reuters) -More than 1 million polio vaccines intended for children have been destroyed as a result of looting in Sudan during the upsurge in violence since April, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF told Reuters on Friday.

“A number of cold chain facilities have been looted, damaged and destroyed, including over a million polio vaccines in South Darfur,” Hazel De Wet, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Programmes,¬†UNICEF told Reuters in an email.

The agency was in the middle of a series of polio vaccination campaigns in Sudan following an outbreak at the end of 2022.

Polio, a disease which mainly affects children under 5, can lead to paralysis and death. Africa was declared free of wild polio in 2020 but Malawi, Mozambique and Sudan have reported imported cases since last year.

A World Health Organization database shows there have been 28 attacks on health care facilities in Sudan since the conflict erupted last month, pitting Sudan’s army against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Numerous humanitarian agencies have reported looting during the Sudan crisis including the World Food Programme, which said it lost $13-$14 million worth of supplies.

(Reporting by Emma FargeEditing by Miranda Murray)