24 October 2013

A UNICEF charter plane carrying urgently-needed vaccines and specialist nutritious food for children in Syria has arrived in Beirut. Supplies will be moved by truck into Syria. 

The cargo plane contained around almost 30 tonnes of supplies, including more than a quarter of a million doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, and supercereal, a nutritious food for children 6-23 months of age. 

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The vaccines are needed to replenish supplies being used in the Ministry of Health-led vaccination campaign currently underway in Syria.

"The campaign is especially important because it is reaching children who have already missed out on their routine vaccinations," said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil of UNICEF Syria.

"Delivery of the vaccines by air was the fastest option in this case. In turn, the supercereal will help to meet urgent nutritional needs amongst some of Syria's most vulnerable young infants."

As the conflict continues in Syria, UNICEF staff have seen a rise in the number of children being admitted to hospitals with moderate and severe acute malnutrition compared to two years ago.

"The stresses associated with displacement and the impact of rising food prices, along with lack of access to food in some areas, has already compromised children’s nutritional status," said Abdel-Jelil. "The approaching winter is expected to worsen the situation further." 

Supercereal contains principally wheat and whole soya beans, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals which support the growth and development of children. It is mixed into a nutritious porridge.

UNICEF Syria, together with partners, will be targeting 50,000 children over the next three months to benefit from this nutrition programme in some of the worst-affected areas in Syria. 

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A delivery of UNICEF supplies arrives in Damascus, Syria in September 2013. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0584/BASSEL HALABI
A delivery of UNICEF supplies arrives in Damascus, Syria in September 2013.© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0584/BASSEL HALABI