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Afghanistan Urged on Polio Shots

October 22, 1999

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The United Nations on Friday urged the warring parties in Afghanistan to observe a three-day cease fire next week so more than 600,000 children can be immunized against polio.

The youngsters missed two previous U.N. immunization campaigns because of fighting and the U.N. Office of the Coordinator for Afghanistan called for a cease-fire to vaccinate them between Oct. 25-27.

The U.N. coordinator reiterated the cease-fire appeal as the Security Council unanimously adopted a statement Friday calling on the warring parties in Afghanistan to reach a political settlement and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all people.

Last week, the council gave the Taliban 30 days to hand over suspected Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden for trial in connection with last year’s twin U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. If the Taliban refuses, the council will impose limited sanctions, freezing its overseas assets and banning international flights to and from Afghanistan.

The council’s statement Friday reiterated the call to hand over bin Laden and called on the Taliban to expel all terrorists.

The Taliban has seized control of more than 90 percent of Afghanistan, imposing a strict version of Islam and waging a fierce war with ethnic and religious minority opposition fighters. Thousands have been killed and more than 150,000 have been displaced.

Almost six million doses of oral polio vaccine have been distributed in all areas of Afghanistan, and 20,000 trained volunteers are ready to begin vaccinating children under the age of five next week, the U.N. coordinator’s office said.

In May and June, the U.N. Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization immunized millions of children, but the agencies estimate that about 600,000 children in 20 districts missed the immunizations because of the fighting.

Afghanistan, Congo, Somalia, southern Sudan and Angola are countries considered at high risk for polio.

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