UN warns funding gap raises Lebanon epidemics risk

File photo showing Lebanon's capital Beirut and in the frame a view of a plane landing at Rafik Hariri International Airport, Lebanon. (AP)
Updated 05 April 2018
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UN warns funding gap raises Lebanon epidemics risk

  • Measles, Polio spread in Lebanon for lack of funding
  • Measles, Polio are on the rise in Lebanon for lack of government funding
Beirut: A funding gap is compromising the response to a measles outbreak in Lebanon, a United Nations statement said Thursday, warning it also risked allowing polio to spread from Syria.
The UN's Children Fund, which has provided free vaccines for children in Lebanon for a quarter of a century, said the first 12 weeks of 2018 had seen a sharp increase in measles cases.
It said it was currently among several partners supporting the Lebanese health ministry's immunisation campaign "not only for measles but also for polio in order to mitigate the risk of polio spreading from Syria."
"If we don't react now, more serious epidemics will hit," Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF's representative in Lebanon, said.
The agency made a $5 million appeal to donors, arguing it needs to replenish vaccine stocks and reach vulnerable children in isolated areas.


Russian-backed air strikes hit Daesh in southern Syria — sources

Updated 48 min 39 sec ago
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Russian-backed air strikes hit Daesh in southern Syria — sources

  • Daesh-affiliated forces entrenched in the Yarmouk Basin
  • The agricultural area has become the main battleground in the sensitive border region

AMMAN: Russian and Syrian jets stepped up their bombing of a Daesh bastion along the Jordan-Israel border in southwestern Syria, as the militants pushed into areas abandoned by other rebel groups, diplomatic and opposition sources said.
Daesh-affiliated forces entrenched in the Yarmouk Basin, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan, also repelled a ground attack by the Syrian army and its allies, the sources added.
The agricultural area has become the main battleground in the sensitive border region after a major Russian-backed Syrian army offensive routed other rebel groups who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
An intelligence source told Reuters 1,000-1,500 Daesh fighters had been holding their ground despite the 10-day-old bombing campaign that he said had hit villages and caused “untold number” of civilian casualties
A former resident in touch with relatives said thousands of civilians whose villages have been bombed have fled to the safety of areas either held by the army or rebels.
Another source familiar with the situation said Daesh had actually been able to expand its territory over the last 20 hours by seizing at least 18 villages abandoned by other rebels under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Daesh was taking advantage of the collapse of its ideological FSA rivals which it views as apostates, the source said.
The United States once armed the southern FSA rebels, but told them at the start of the Russian-Syrian offensive not to expect its intervention. While cutting other aid to the rebels, Washington had continued to provide those fighting Islamic State with weapons, the source added.
The Syrian army said its aerial strikes and shelling of militants in the Yarmouk Basin — the only territorial pocket held by the hard-line Sunni fundamentalists in the country’s southwest — had killed “tens of terrorists” in a campaign whose goal it said was to crush militants.
The army and its allies have been pushing to expand their foothold near the Golan frontier by negotiating surrender deals with rebel groups and allowing them to move to opposition-held areas in northern Syria.