Press Conference by Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Sudan Polio Vaccinations, Philippines Super Typhoon Haiyan

11 November 2013

Press Conference by Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Sudan Polio Vaccinations, Philippines Super Typhoon Haiyan

11 November 2013
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

on Sudan Polio Vaccinations, Philippines Super Typhoon Haiyan

The Security Council should “unlock” the situation in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile States so that humanitarian agencies and partners could have unfettered access to administer polio vaccinations in the two States, a senior official from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at a Headquarters press conference today.

John Ging, Director of Operations, who had earlier updated the Security Council on the planned vaccination, stated that, because of a lack of access, humanitarian agencies had been unable to deal with the outbreak of polio in the region, thus failing to save thousands of children and provide relief assistance to those in need.

He recalled that over a year ago, the Council, in resolution 2046 (2012), had called for unfettered access for humanitarian agencies and partners.  Yet, nothing had changed.  The vaccination campaign, aimed to cover 165,000 children and ensure Sudan be polio free, was hindered by the impasse between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“Although, the Government of Sudan announced a window of opportunity for the vaccination, which expired today, however, SPLM-North was insisting on meetings before the polio campaign, and the Government, on its part, said no to the discussions, so there was an impasse,” Mr. Ging stated.

He appealed to the Council to re-engage with the parties for humanitarian access and to facilitate the vaccination programme, underscoring that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its partners were ready with both human resources and supplies to undertake the programme.

“If we get the green light, we, on the United Nations side, are ready and it will only take four days to vaccinate the children,” he added.

Mr. Ging also said the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) were working in collaboration with local health authorities in Sudan for the polio vaccination and the distribution other medical requirements, as well.

On the situation in the Philippines, he said the devastation that followed Super Typhoon Haiyan was “massive”, with an estimated 9.8 million people affected, and 650,000 people displaced.  The United Nations had mobilized its relief efforts to respond to the disaster; its humanitarian agencies and partners in the Philippines were working closely with the Government to ensure affected areas were being supported with vital food, shelter and other relief materials, as well as health and medical needs.

Mr. Ging commended the Government for its response, which he said was “very impressive”.  On the 100,000 people who perished, he said that the Organization had also helped in the recovery of bodies and their removal, as well as mobilizing and responding, on a massive scale, to reach affected communities.

Responding to questions on the situation in the Philippines, Mr. Ging stated that the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, had announced the release of $25 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for humanitarian mobilization and responses.  She would also launch a flash appeal in Manila, the Philippines capital, on Tuesday.

He said that access to clean drinking water and sanitation was a high priority for the United Nations humanitarian agencies.  The situation was very difficult, with huge logistic challenges due to the magnitude of the destruction.  However, the United Nations had promptly responded and had focused on the immediate needs of the affected people, as well as on a contingency plan to prevent an outbreak of public health disasters.

Responding to a question on South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, Mr. Ging said that violence had continued there, with bombardments resulting in the killing, wounding, and displacements of hundreds of people, as well as the denial of humanitarian access to the civilian population.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.