News in Brief 17 June 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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The UN has requested access from the government to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria affected by more than five years of fighting. Photo: UNICEF/Amer Al Shami

Syria aid convoys reach 87,000 besieged people

Aid convoys to besieged communities in Syria have delivered emergency supplies in recent hours to more than 87,000 people, according to the UN.

OCHA, the humanitarian coordinating agency, said that Al-Waer in Homs and Afrin in Aleppo had been reached.

Another convoy to Al-Waer is planned, pending government approval.

In addition to food and water, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that insulin had been delivered to Al-Waer, while Afrin had received emergency health and burn kits.

A third convoy to Kafr Batna did not go ahead because of what OCHA described as "last-minute logistical complications".

Spokesperson Jens Laerke said he hoped it would go ahead in coming days, as indicated by UN humanitarian task force coordinator Jan Egeland on Thursday.

"We are seeking permission to go back, and I think he mentioned that we are seeking basically approval to go to all besieged locations in Syria."

Mr Laerke also said that there has been no announcement about whether aid convoys can deliver to Arbin and Zamalka in Rural Damascus, where the UN believes there are close to 40,000 people in need of help.

Lower doses of yellow fever vaccine "can be used for outbreaks"

Yellow fever vaccines may have to be given in lower doses to control an outbreak of the disease amid drug shortages, the UN health agency has said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement after experts met to discuss potential shortages linked to outbreaks in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A third unrelated outbreak has been identified in Uganda.

According to experts, using a fifth of a standard vaccine dose would still provide protection against the disease for at least 12 months.

So far WHO has sent around 18 million doses to those three countries

Here's WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic:

"So for the time being we have enough vaccines, but this proposal could be implemented in operations if we face this shortage. This would not be used for routine immunization, for children, it would be used in a mass vaccination that we are doing right now."

The global vaccine stockpile which is funded by UN-partner GAVI, has six million doses for emergency use per year.

This has already been depleted twice since February.

Fears mount for wellbeing of thousands of Fallujah displaced

Concern is growing over the health and mental wellbeing of tens of thousands of Iraqis affected by violence in and around the city of Fallujah.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has no access to the city, which Iraqi government forces are trying to liberate from ISIL extremists.

But it says the 30 to 40,000 people that it believes are still in Fallujah lack food, water and even basic health services, and that diarrhoeal diseases "are extremely common".

There's also fears of a mass outbreak of preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, for up to 70,000 or more displaced people outside Fallujah, and from the neighbouring city of Ramadi.

Here's WHO's Dr Ala Alwan, speaking on the phone from the Iraqi capital Baghdad:

"This is a population that has not been vaccinated for over two years. I mean we saw children, three year olds, who were never vaccinated. So WHO have obviously started immediately preparing for a massive vaccination campaign for all displaced children.

WHO's Dr Alwan said the scale of the humanitarian situation in Iraq is unprecedented, with more than three million people already displaced in the country.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’30″



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