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Polio campaign in the Two Areas to start next November: official

October 3, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The polio campaign for children under five years in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states will take place next November, announced the head of Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), Suleiman Abdel Rahman Suleiman on Thursday.

A woman holds her child in a shelter in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, on April 28, 2012. (Reuters)

Speaking following a meeting with UN resident and humanitarian coordinator Ali Al-Za’atari, African Union representative in Khartoum Mahmoud Kane and Arab League envoy to Sudan Salah Abu Halima, Suleiman said that they agreed to start the Polio vaccination campaign in the rebel controlled areas in the Two Areas on 5 November.

He pointed out that the timetable for the implementation of the vaccination campaign has been handed over to the ministry of defence to enable the military to implement a cessation of hostilities between the government and the SPLM-North rebels during the conduct of the operation.

The defence ministry pledged to finalise the timetable of the cessation of hostilities early next week, Suleiman added.

Last month the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan said the SPLM-N dropped its demand that vaccines, whatever their origin, should not pass through government controlled areas.

The UN also said the campaign could start in October and invited the two parties have to negotiate the modalities of a temporary cessation of hostilities. However, Khartoum on 20 September declined the offer indicating its preference for indirect discussions over the humanitarian truce.

For his part, Al-Za’atari stated that the Sudanese government demands to carry out the operation by land while the SPLM-N prefers to conduct it by air, adding they would seek to be flexible and use airplanes if there is a need for that.

He underlined the UN’s keenness to complete this campaign as soon as possible due to the seriousness of the situation after the onset of polio cases in South Sudan.

South Sudanese ministry of health announced this week that two cases at least had been registered in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Eastern Equatoria states

The vaccination campaign, which target 147,000 children in South Kordofan and 7000 children in Blue Nile, is expected to be carried at the same time with a similar operation in South Sudan.