8 polio vaccinator killed in North

KABUL (Agencies): At least eight polio vaccinators including women were shot dead in separate attacks by the unknown armed men in northern Takhar and Kunduz provinces, sources privy to the issue, confirmed. Following the attack on the health workers providing polio vaccination, the polio campaign has been halted in Kunduz and Takhar provinces.
Officials in Kunduz said that the unidentified gunmen targeted at least seven polio vaccinators in PD 1 and 2 of Kunduz’s capital city, as well as in the Imam Sahib district. “On Friday at 12:00 noon, in several parts of Kunduz, seven health workers in the polio campaign were killed,” said Qari Obaidullah Abidi, a spokesman for the Kunduz security department.
According to the officials, two perpetrators have been arrested on the charge of being involved in the attacks. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world, where polio has still remained an unsolved problem.
Ramiz Alakbarov, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, took to Twitter to express condemnation in the strongest terms. He said the attacks and assassinations were a violation of international humanitarian law. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus, has also expressed his profound shock. Four of the health workers were women, he said in a post on Twitter. “We extend our deepest condolences to their families and colleagues,” he wrote, adding that health workers should not be targeted.
The UN Country Team was appalled by the brutality of the killings, noting that this was not the first time health workers have come under attack. Last year, nine polio workers were killed during national polio vaccination campaigns.
These immunization exercises are a vital and effective way to reach millions of children to protect them against polio, the UN statement said, and depriving them from an assurance of a healthy life is inhumane. “This senseless violence must stop immediately, and those responsible must be investigated and brought to justice. These attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law.”
The UN strongly condemns all attacks on health workers anywhere, stressing that delivery of health care is impartial. The polio vaccination campaign in Afghanistan is supported by WHO, together with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners. They planned to target nearly 10 million under-fives across the country this month, with four more rounds scheduled for the rest of the year.
Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the suspension of the programme in Kunduz and Takhar provinces leaves thousands of children unprotected and exposed to a life-threatening disease that can result in permanent paralysis. In calling for an end to “senseless attacks” on health workers, Dr. Al-Mandhari pointed out that they are strictly forbidden in all faiths. “These cowardly acts ultimately only harm innocent children who must be given every opportunity to live safe and healthy lives,” he said. “WHO condemns all attacks on health workers in the strongest terms and appeal to the Taliban Authorities to immediately identify and bring the perpetrators to justice.”