British PM Rishi Sunak calls national election for July 4

British PM Rishi Sunak calls national election for July 4
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech calling for a general election, outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, on May 22, 2024. (REUTERS)
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Updated 22 May 2024

British PM Rishi Sunak calls national election for July 4

British PM Rishi Sunak calls national election for July 4
  • Move could prove risky for Sunak as his Conservative party lags behind Labour Party in opinion polls
  • Sunak, who took office less than two years ago, has increasingly become isolated in even his own party

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a national election for July 4 on Wednesday, saying Britons would be able to choose their future in a vote his Conservatives are widely expected to lose to the opposition Labour Party after 14 years in power.

Ending months of speculation as to when he would call a new vote, Sunak, 44, stood outside his Downing Street office in pouring rain and announced he was calling the election earlier than expected, a risky strategy with his party far behind Labour in the opinion polls.

Almost shouting to be heard above an anthem associated with the Labour Party played by protesters just outside the gates to Downing Street, Sunak listed what he said were his achievements in government, not only as prime minister but also as a former finance minister.

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future,” he said, describing that choice as one between stability with him and the unknown with Labour leader Keir Starmer.

“Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote, I will earn your trust and I will prove to you that only a Conservative government led by me will not put our hard-earned economic stability at risk.”

In an attack on Labour, he said that Starmer, conversely, always took the “easy way out” and had no plan. “As a result, the future can only be uncertain with them,” he said.

Sunak heads into the election not only far behind the Labour Party in the polls but also somewhat isolated from some in his party, increasingly dependent on a small team of advisers to steer him through what is set to be an ugly campaign.

But he seems to have decided with some economic gains, such as inflation falling and the economy growing at its fastest pace in almost three years, now was the time to take a risk and present his agenda for a new term formally to voters.

The former investment banker and finance minister took office less than two years ago, and since then has struggled to define what he stands for, becoming increasingly frustrated that what he sees as his successes have failed to be appreciated.


Both parties have all but kicked off campaigning for an election, with the attack lines on the economy and on defense already firmly drawn.

Sunak and his government accuse Labour of being poised to increase taxes if in government and that the party would not be a safe pair of hands for Britain in an increasingly dangerous world as it lacks a plan, charges the opposition denies.

Labour accuses the government of 14 years of economic mismanagement, leaving people worse off, with a series of chaotic administrations that have failed to give the stability businesses have craved to spur economic growth.

If Labour win the election, Britain, once known for its political stability, will have had six prime ministers in eight years for the first time since the 1830s.

Labour said before the announcement it was more than ready for an election.

“We are fully ready to go whenever the prime minister calls an election. We have a fully organized and operational campaign ready to go and we think the country is crying out for a general election,” Labour leader Starmer’s spokesperson told reporters.

Starmer kicked off his party’s election campaign last week by pledging to “rebuild Britain,” setting out the first steps he said Labour would take if it forms the next government.

Labour is running about 20 percentage points ahead of Sunak’s Conservatives in the opinion polls but some party officials are concerned their advantage is not as solid as it appears, fearing many voters remain undecided.

Sunak might be aiming to capitalize on that uncertainty and also to wrongfoot Labour, which has still to complete the selection of all its parliamentary candidates, a party veteran said.

Sunak will also hope that some economic gains and the first flights in his centerpiece immigration plan of sending illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda might also boost his party’s fortunes. The earliest possible date for those flights is June 24, 10 days before the election.

While some Conservatives welcomed the move to call an election, not all were happy.

“Death wish 2024,” said one Conservative lawmaker on condition of anonymity.

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive
Updated 49 min 13 sec ago

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive
  • The FBI said they were investigating it as a potential act of domestic terrorism
  • Student at Bethel Park High School says Crooks was bullied inschool and mocked for the clothes he wore

WASHINGTON: The 20-year-old man who tried to assassinate former President Donald Trump first came to law enforcement’s attention at Saturday’s rally when spectators noticed him acting strangely outside the campaign event. The tip sparked a frantic search but officers were unable to find him before he managed to get on a roof, where he opened fire.
In the wake of the shooting that killed one spectator, investigators were hunting for any clues about what may have drove Thomas Matthew Crooks, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, to carry out the shocking attack. The FBI said they were investigating it as a potential act of domestic terrorism, but the absence of a clear ideological motive by the man shot dead by Secret Service led conspiracy theories to flourish.
“I urge everyone — everyone, please, don’t make assumptions about his motives or his affiliations,” President Joe Biden said in remarks Sunday from the White House. “Let the FBI do their job, and their partner agencies do their job. I’ve instructed that this investigation be thorough and swift.”
The FBI said it believes Crooks, who had bomb-making materials in the car he drove to the rally, acted alone. Investigators have found no threatening comments on social media accounts or ideological positions that could help explain what led him to target Trump before Secret Service rushed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee off the stage, his face smeared with blood.
Trump said on social media the upper part of his right ear was pierced in the shooting, but advisers said he was “great spirits” ahead of his arrival Sunday in Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention. Two spectators were critically injured, while a former fire chief from the area, Corey Comperatore was killed. Pennsylvania’s governor said Comperatore, 50, died a hero by diving onto his family to protect them.
Relatives of Crooks didn’t respond to numerous messages from The Associated Press. His father, Matthew Crooks, told CNN late Saturday that he was trying to figure out “what the hell is going on” but wouldn’t speak about his son until after he talked to law enforcement. An FBI official told reporters that Crooks’ family is cooperating with investigators.
Several rallygoers reported to local officers that Crooks was acting suspiciously and pacing near the magnetometers, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. Officers were then told Crooks was climbing a ladder, the official said. Officers searched for him but were unable to find him before he made it to the roof, the official added.
Butler County Sheriff Michael Slupe told the AP that a local officer climbed to the roof and encountered Crooks, who saw the officer and turned toward him just before the officer dropped down to safety. Slupe said the officer couldn’t have wielded his own gun under the circumstances. The officer retreated down the ladder, and Crooks quickly took a shot toward Trump, and that’s when Secret Service snipers shot him, according to two officials who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

FBI officials said Sunday that they were combing Crooks’ background and social media activities while working to get access to his phone. The chatting app Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games, said Crooks appears to have had an account but used it rarely and not in the last several months. There’s no evidence he used his account to promote violence or discuss his political views, a Discord spokesperson said.
Crooks’ political leanings were not immediately clear. Records show Crooks was registered as a Republican voter in Pennsylvania, but federal campaign finance reports also show he gave $15 to a progressive political action committee on Jan. 20, 2021, the day Biden was sworn into office.
Crooks graduated from Bethel Park High School in 2022. In a video of the school’s graduation ceremony posted online, Crooks can be seen crossing the stage to receive his diploma, appearing slight of build and wearing glasses. The school district said it will cooperate fully with investigators. His senior year, Crooks was among several students given an award for math and science, according to a Tribune-Review story at the time.
Crooks tried out for the school’s rifle team but was turned away because he was a bad shooter, said Frederick Mach, a current captain of the team who was a few years behind Crooks at the school.
Jason Kohler, who said he attended the same high school but did not share any classes with Crooks, said Crooks was bullied at school and sat alone at lunch time. Other students mocked him for the clothes he wore, which included hunting outfits, Kohler said.
“He was bullied almost every day,” Kohler told reporters. “He was just a outcast, and you know how kids are nowadays.”
Crooks worked at a nursing home as a dietary aide, a job that generally involves food preparation. Marcie Grimm, the administrator of Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, said in a statement she was “shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement.” Grimm added that Crooks had a clean background check when he was hired.

Police block roads around the home of Thomas Matthew Crooks as the FBI continues its investigation into the attempted assassination of former US President Donald Trump in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 2024. (AFP)

A blockade had been set up Sunday preventing traffic near Crooks’ house, which is in an enclave of modest brick houses in the hills outside Pittsburgh and about an hour’s drive from the site of the Trump rally. Police cars were stationed at an intersection near the house and officers were seen walking through the neighborhood.
Crooks used an AR-style rifle, which authorities said they believe was purchased by his father. Kevin Rojek, FBI special agent in charge in Pittsburgh, said that investigators do not yet know if he took the gun without his father’s permission.
A video posted to social media and geolocated by AP shows Crooks wearing a gray t-shirt with a black American flag on the right arm lying motionless on the roof of a manufacturing plant just north of the Butler Farm Show grounds where Trump’s rally was held.
The roof where Crooks lay was less than 150 meters (164 yards) from where Trump was speaking, a distance from which a decent marksman could reasonably hit a human-sized target. That is a distance at which US Army recruits must hit a scaled human-sized silhouette to qualify with the M-16 rifle.
Images of Crooks’ body reviewed by AP show he appears to have been wearing a T-shirt from Demolition Ranch, a popular YouTube channel that regularly posts videos of its creator firing off handguns and assault rifles at targets that include human mannequins.
Matt Carriker, the Texas-based creator of Demolition Ranch, did not respond to a phone message or email on Sunday, but posted a photo of Crooks’ bloody corpse wearing his brand’s T-shirt on social media with the comment “What the hell.”


In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’
Updated 15 July 2024

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’
  • Political passions can run high but “we must never descend into violence,” he said
  • Saturday’s attack upended the Democratic counteroffensive on the cusp of the Republican convention

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden warned Sunday of the the risks of political violence in the US after Saturday’s attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, saying, “It’s time to cool it down.”
In a prime-time national address from the Oval Office, Biden said political passions can run high but “we must never descend into violence.”
“There is no place in America for this kind of violence — for any violence. Ever. Period. No exception. We can’t allow this violence to be normalized,” Biden said.
Biden spoke for about five minutes from the Oval Office. He noted that the Republican National Convention was opening in Milwaukee on Monday, while he himself would be traveling the country to campaign for reelection.
He said passions would run high on both sides and the stakes of the election were enormous.
“We can do this,” Biden implored, saying the nation was founded on a democracy that gave reason and balance a chance to prevail over brute force. “American democracy — where arguments are made in good faith. American democracy — where the rule of law is respected. Where decency, dignity, fair play aren’t just quaint notions, they’re living, breathing realities.”


Earlier Sunday, Biden condemned the attempted assassination of his predecessor, Trump, as “contrary to everything we stand for as a nation” and said he was ordering an independent security review of how such an attack could have happened.
He called for the country to “unite as one nation,” promised a “thorough and swift” review and asked the public not to “make assumptions” about the shooter’s motives or affiliations.
The president said he has also directed the US Secret Service to review all security measures for the RNC. Hours later, Audrey Gibson-Cicchino, the Secret Service’s coordinator for the convention, said the weekend attack against Trump did not prompt any changes to the agency’s security plan for the event and officials “are fully prepared.”
In his remarks, Biden called the attack on Trump “not who we are as a nation.”
“It’s not American. And we cannot allow this to happen,” he said. “Unity is the most elusive goal of all, but nothing is more important than that right now.”
The president said he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the family of Corey Comperatore, a former fire chief who was shot and killed during the Trump rally Saturday night in Butler, Pennsylvania.
“He was protecting his family from the bullets,” Biden said. “God love him.”
The president also said he’d had a “short but good conversation” with Trump in the hours after the shootings and said he was “sincerely grateful” that the former president is “doing well and recovering.”
Trump, who has called for national resilience since the shooting, posted on his social media account after Biden’s remarks, “UNITE AMERICA!”
Actually achieving unity will be far more challenging, especially in the midst of a bitter presidential campaign. Biden’s team is grappling with how to calibrate the path forward after the weekend attack on the very person he is trying to defeat in November’s election.
Biden, who has set out to brand Trump as a dire threat to democracy and the nation’s very founding principles, put a temporary pause on such political messaging. Shortly after Saturday night’s attack, Biden’s reelection campaign froze “all outbound communications” and was working to pull down its television ads.
The president also postponed a planned trip to Texas on Monday, where he was to speak on the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at the Lyndon B. Johnson presidential library. An NBC News interview between Biden and anchor Lester Holt will now occur at the White House, instead of in Texas, as initially planned.
Biden’s campaign said that, after the NBC interview airs on Monday night, it and the Democratic National Committee “will continue drawing the contrast” with Trump over the course of the GOP convention — even though it remains unclear when ads would resume.
Biden also still plans to make a planned trip to Las Vegas, which will include a campaign event Wednesday. Vice President Kamala Harris postponed her planned campaign trip to Florida on Tuesday, where she had been set to meet with Republican women.
Trump, meanwhile, announced he was moving up plans to go to Milwaukee and the Republican convention, where criticism of Biden and the Democrats is sure to be searing.
The weekend developments were only the latest upheaval in a campaign that has been extraordinarily topsy-turvy in recent weeks.
Biden’s shaky debate performance on June 27 so spooked his own party that some top surrogates and donors turned on him, and nearly 20 Democratic members of Congress called on the president to leave the race outright. Facing mounting questions about whether he was fit for a second term, Biden and his top advisers have been scrambling to salvage his campaign by adding events around the country and more aggressively criticizing Trump.
Saturday’s attack upended — at least for now — that counteroffensive on the cusp of the Republican convention.
The campaign also hopes that Sunday’s Oval Office address lets Biden further drive home his point about unity while demonstrating leadership that could assuage nervous critics within his own party.
“We’ll debate and we’ll disagree, that’s not going to change,” Biden said in his afternoon remarks. “But we’ll not lose sight of who we are as Americans.”
Although investigators are still in the early stages of determining what occurred and why, some Biden critics are calling out the president for telling donors in a private call Monday that “it’s time to put Trump in the bullseye.”
A person familiar with those remarks said the president was trying to make the point that Trump had gotten away with a light public schedule after last month’s debate while the president himself faced intense scrutiny. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to more freely discuss private conversations.
In the donor call, Biden said: “I have one job and that’s to beat Donald Trump. ... I’m absolutely certain I’m the best person to be able to do that.”
He continued: “So, we’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye. He’s gotten away with doing nothing for the last 10 days except ride around in his golf cart, bragging about scores he didn’t score. … Anyway I won’t get into his golf game.”

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats
Updated 57 min 56 sec ago

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats

Republicans, in wake of Trump shooting, seek to pin political violence trend on Democrats
  • “For weeks Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning re-election would be the end of democracy in America,” Republican Rep. Steve Scalize wrote on X
  • A researcher on political violence said it's Trump's right-wing supporters who had been deploying violent language, including threats aimed at election workers, judges and other officials
  • Trump previously had not ruled out the possibility of political violence if he loses November’s election. “If we don’t win, you know, it depends,” he told TIME magazine in April

WASHINGTON: Within hours of the assassination attempt on former US President Donald Trump, many of his supporters began laying blame on Democrats, seeking to flip the script on who has stoked America’s heated political rhetoric as cases of political violence reach historic heights.
From establishment Republicans to far-right conspiracy theorists, a consistent message emerged that President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders laid the groundwork for Saturday’s shooting by casting Trump as an autocrat who poses a grave threat to democracy.
A Reuters analysis of more than 200 incidents of politically motivated violence between 2021 and 2023, however, presented a different picture: In those years, fatal political violence more often emanated from the American right than from the left.
The US is embroiled in the most sustained spate of political violence since a decade of upheaval that began in the late 1960s, Reuters found in that report published last year. That violence has come from across the ideological spectrum, and includes extensive attacks on property during left-wing political demonstrations. But attacks on people — from beatings to killings — were perpetrated mostly by suspects acting in service of right-wing political beliefs and ideology.
Almost immediately after Saturday’s attack, right-wing websites were brimming with assertions that left-wing rhetoric motivated Trump’s assailant. Many commentators blamed the shooting on the Biden White House or pushed unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, including a claim that a shadowy “deep state” cabal within the government orchestrated it.
“Do not think this is going to be the last attempt to kill Trump. The Deep State really has no other choice now,” said a user on the pro-Trump website Patriots.Win. “It’s going to take borderline martial law to set the country right,” wrote another. One user called for a federal government purge. “It’s us or them.”
Trump’s Republican backers pointed specifically to a comment Biden made on July 8 as the president discussed his dismal debate performance in a meeting with donors.
“I have one job and that’s to beat Donald Trump,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the call that Biden’s campaign forwarded to reporters. “We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye. He’s gotten away with doing nothing for the last 10 days except ride around in his golf cart.”
Some Republican officeholders seized on the “bullseye” comment as an example of Biden invoking violent imagery in describing November’s presidential election and criticized Biden and other Democrats for casting the former president as a threat to Democracy and to the nation.
“For weeks Democrat leaders have been fueling ludicrous hysteria that Donald Trump winning re-election would be the end of democracy in America,” US Representative Steve Scalize, a Louisiana Republican, wrote on X. “Clearly we’ve seen far left lunatics act on violent rhetoric in the past. This incendiary rhetoric must stop.”
Scalize himself was the victim of violence seven years ago, wounded by a left-wing gunman who opened fire during a practice of the congressional Republican baseball team.
Other Republican politicians added to the drumbeat.
“Joe Biden sent the orders,” US Representative Mike Collins, a Republican from Georgia, posted on X on Saturday. There is no evidence for that claim. “The Republican District Attorney in Butler County, PA, should immediately file charges against Joseph R. Biden for inciting an assassination.”

“False equivalence”
Kurt Braddock, an assistant professor of public communication at American University who researches political violence, said Biden’s criticisms of Trump as a threat to the nation aren’t the same as the violent language deployed by right-wing supporters of Trump. “It’s a little bit of a false equivalence,” Braddock said.
Trump supporters have led an increase in threats and harassing communications aimed at election workers, judges and other officials.
After Trump lost the 2020 election, Reuters documented hundreds of threats to local election officials by Trump supporters enraged by his false claims that the election was rigged. A Reuters investigation published in May found thatviolent threats against judgeshandling Trump’s various criminal and civil trials spiked after the former president criticized those judges in speeches or social-media posts.
Before the shooting, Trump had not ruled out the possibility of political violence if he loses November’s election. “If we don’t win, you know, it depends,” he said when asked by TIME magazine in April if he expected violence after the 2024 election. He’s also refused to unconditionally accept the results of the upcoming election and warned of a “bloodbath” if he loses.
A Reuters review of dozens of Trump’s campaign speeches – particularly those from 2020 and 2024 – found that violence was a recurring theme. He has exhorted rallygoers “to take back our country,” repeatedly praised the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters and compared himself to famed mobster Al Capone. While president, he encouraged police to be rough with people they were arresting and threatened to use the US military to quell protests.
Biden, who has repeatedly condemned political violence, offered another denunciation immediately after the attack on Trump.
“There is no place in America for this kind of violence or any violence for that matter. An assassination attempt is contrary to everything we stand for ... as a nation — everything,” Biden said in a televised address. “We’ll debate and we’ll disagree. That’s not going to change. But we’re not going to lose sight of who we are as Americans.”
Trump struck a defiant tone initially. In the moments after the shooting at his rally in Pennsylvania, he pumped his fist at the crowd and shouted, “Fight! Fight!” On Sunday, however, he called for national unity.
“In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United,” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social network.
That message was reinforced by his campaign in memo to staff urging calm. “It is our fervent hope that this horrendous act will bring our team, and indeed the nation, together in unity and we must renew our commitment to safety and peace for our country,” said the internal campaign memo, seen by Reuters.
Some pro-Trump commentators predicted more violence ahead. “They will stop at nothing unless America stands up to them,” said a commentator on Rumble, a video-sharing site that attracts right-wing users, referring to Democrats. “Violence is going to happen. Here is the civil war.”
A senior member of the Proud Boys, the violent all-male extremist group that led the pro-Trump storming of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, said the group would show up at the Republican National Convention, which kicks off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday. After the shooting of Trump, “you’ll see us at more events,” the Proud Boy told Reuters. “It’s going to be more active. It’s that simple.”
Megan McBride, an expert in domestic violent extremism, said US leaders have a brief window to cool partisan hatred before a retaliatory cycle emerges. Research shows that support for political violence increases when people believe the other side supports it, said McBride, a senior research scientist with the Institute for Public Research at CNA, a nonprofit that studies security issues.
“There’s nothing inevitable about a progression from the threat of violence to violence itself,” she said. “That’s a really fantastic opportunity for the country to kind of bring the temperature down a little bit.”
The shooter’s politics and motive remain unclear. The suspect, 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, was killed at the scene by Secret Service agents. Crooks was a registered Republican who would have been eligible to cast his first presidential vote in the Nov. 5 election. His father, Matthew Crooks, 53, told CNN he was trying to learn what happened and would wait until he had talked to law enforcement before speaking about his son.

Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who represents the area where the shooting occurred, attended with his wife and grandchildren and was just behind Trump when he was wounded. Kelly said he was “in a state of bewilderment of how and what has happened to the United States of America.”
“I just wish people — tone it down,” he said. “Quit trying to find, to blame somebody. The blame lies somewhere in the psyche of America.”

(With AP)

BlackRock says suspect from Trump rally appeared in a 2022 ad

BlackRock says suspect from Trump rally appeared in a 2022 ad
Updated 15 July 2024

BlackRock says suspect from Trump rally appeared in a 2022 ad

BlackRock says suspect from Trump rally appeared in a 2022 ad
  • Thomas Crooks graduated in 2022 from Bethel Park High School

Thomas Crooks, the suspect in Saturday’s attempted assassination of former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, briefly appeared in an advertisement for BlackRock, the company said on Sunday.
“In 2022, we ran an ad featuring a teacher from Bethel Park High School, in which several unpaid students briefly appeared in the background, including Thomas Matthew Crooks,” the world’s biggest asset manager said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Thomas Crooks graduated in 2022 from Bethel Park High School, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
BlackRock said it will make all video footage available to the appropriate authorities and has removed the video from circulation.
“The assassination attempt on former President Trump is abhorrent,” the company said.
BlackRock will release its second-quarter results on Monday.

UN alarmed as childhood immunization levels stall

UN alarmed as childhood immunization levels stall
Updated 15 July 2024

UN alarmed as childhood immunization levels stall

UN alarmed as childhood immunization levels stall
  • “The latest trends demonstrate that many countries continue to miss far too many children,” UNICEF chief Catherine Russell said in a joint statement

GENEVA: Global childhood vaccination levels have stalled, leaving millions more children un- or under-vaccinated than before the pandemic, the UN said Monday, warning of dangerous coverage gaps enabling outbreaks of diseases like measles.
In 2023, 84 percent of children, or 108 million, received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), with the third dose serving as a key marker for global immunization coverage, according to data published by the UN health and children’s agencies.
That was the same percentage as a year earlier, meaning that modest progress seen in 2022 after the steep drop during the Covid-19 crisis has “stalled,” the organizations warned. The rate was 86 percent in 2019 before the pandemic.
“The latest trends demonstrate that many countries continue to miss far too many children,” UNICEF chief Catherine Russell said in a joint statement.
In fact, 2.7 million additional children remained un- or under-vaccinated last year compared to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, the organizations found.

“We are off track,” World Health Organization vaccine chief Kate O’Brien told reporters.
“Global immunization coverage has yet to fully recover from the historic backsliding that we saw during the course of the pandemic.”
Not only has progress stalled, but the number of so-called zero-dose children, who have not received a single jab, rose to 14.5 million last year from 13.9 million in 2022 and from 12.8 million in 2019, according to the data published Monday.
“This puts the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk,” O’Brien warned.
Even more concerning is that more than half of the world’s unvaccinated children live in 31 countries with fragile, conflict-affected settings, where they are especially vulnerable to contracting preventable diseases, due to lacking access to security, nutrition and health services.
Children in such countries are also far more likely to miss out on the necessary follow-up jabs.
A full 6.5 million children worldwide did not complete their third dose of the DTP vaccine, which is necessary to achieve disease protection in infancy and early childhood, Monday’s datasets showed.

The WHO and UNICEF voiced additional concern over lagging vaccination against measles — one of the world’s most infectious diseases — amid an exploding number of outbreaks around the world.
“Measles outbreaks are the canary in the coalmine, exposing and exploiting gaps in immunization and hitting the most vulnerable first,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement.
In 2023, only 83 percent of children worldwide received their first dose of the measles vaccine through routine health services — the same level as in 2022 but down from 86 percent before the pandemic.
And only 74 percent received their second necessary dose, while 95-percent coverage is needed to prevent outbreaks, the organizations pointed out.
“This is still too low to prevent outbreaks and achieve elimination goals,” Ephrem Lemango, UNICEF immunization chief, told reporters.
He pointed out that more than 300,000 measles cases were confirmed in 2023 — nearly three times as many as a year earlier.
And a full 103 countries have suffered outbreaks in the past five years, with low vaccination coverage of 80 percent or lower seen as a major factor.
By contrast, 91 countries with strong measles vaccine coverage experienced no outbreaks.
“Alarmingly, nearly three in four infants live in places at the greatest risk of measles outbreaks,” Lemango said, pointing out that 10 crisis-wracked countries, including Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, account for more than half of children not vaccinated against measles.
On a more positive note, strong increases were seen in vaccination against the cervical cancer-causing HPV virus.
But that vaccine is still only reaching 56 percent of adolescent girls in high-income countries and 23 percent in lower-income countries — far below the 90-percent-target.