The United Nations said on Monday it was calling for a halt to fighting across Sudan this month to cover a three-day campaign to vaccinate people against polio and stave off a feared epidemic.
U.N. officials said the vaccinations would be carried out by the Health Ministry with technical assistance from the United Nations World Health Organization on Jan. 10-12 and hoped all sides would observe what the U.N. calls “days of tranquility.””What I am asking is during the (vaccination) campaign … to have days of tranquility and that means no action whatsoever,” Jan Pronk, the U.N. special envoy to Sudan, told reporters. “That means that all forces should stay in the camps, in their barracks.”The Sudanese government signed a peace accord with a rebel movement in southern Sudan on Dec. 31, but fighting continues in west Sudan, where Darfur rebels and the government have each accused the other of violating an April cease-fire.Pronk said he would discuss the issue with the government and southern rebel movements, as well as with the Darfur rebel groups such as the main groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).The WHO said that polio was on the rise in Sudan and an epidemic was feared, with one official saying the number of cases has risen to 105 since the disease re-emerged in mid-2004.Guido Sabatinelli, WHO representative in Sudan, said that ideally any fighting would halt for two days before the vaccination campaign began and continue two days after, but said the key was to ensure there were no incidents during the 3 days.He said the campaign would administer oral vaccinations to children under five with household-to-household visits. He said three days would be enough to reach children under five.(Source: Reuters Health, January 2005)