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More than 50 children have reportedly died ‘in rebel-held areas’ in Syria after being injected with a tainted measles vaccine.

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The vaccination campaign included eight towns in the Idlib province (Northwest Syria) and started under a UN-sponsored program in collaboration with what is being called “Syrian opposition health authorities.”

The Syrian opposition coalition, which controls the area expected to have more victims, is saying that the vaccines came from UNICEF and the WHO with the support of the Turkish authorities. Even though there’s no presence of the Syrian government being there, the opposition insisted to accuse the Syrian government of standing behind the crime.

The so called “opposition health authorities” stopped the immunization directly after many doctors in the cities of Jirjanaz and Maaret al-Nouman revealed that children began becoming sick soon after the doses were administered. Members from relief organisations pledged that more children are still in serious condition.

Parents of the children have been blaming the opposition health authorities saying that they used out-of-date medicines and gave no care to the health of their children. Syrian opposition officials refused the accusations, ensuring that the same batch had successfully vaccinated 60,000 school children in 30 different areas the previous week.

WARNING: Graphic Content

Images of the dying / affected children posted on social media showing signs of poisoning.

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Photos Credits: Social Media

The so called “opposition health authorities” said in a statement posted online in Arabic:

“Primary investigations point to a limited security breach by vandals likely connected to the regime, which has been attempting to target the medical sector in Free Syria in order to spread chaos.”

The statement also added:

“The Syrian interim government’s health ministry has instructed a halt to the second round of the measles vaccination campaign, which began Monday September 15th … following several fatalities and injuries among children in vaccination centers in the Idlib countryside.”

Adnan Hazouri, the health minister in the Syrian opposition who held a conference (in the Arabic Language) said that he will resign if an investigation upheld allegations of negligence, as blood samples have been sent to Turkey for analysis.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in London, also confirmed:

“At least five children have died and 50 others are suffering from poisoning or allergic reactions after measles vaccinations in Jirjanaz, in the Idlib province.”

The following video shows affected children in Saraqeb hospital in Idlib, Syria:

Monther Khalil, the head of the Idlib medical department said this during an interview with Radio Hawa Smart -an opposition related station established on Gaziantep, Turkey:

“The department assures all parents who have had their children vaccinated that the vaccine is completely fine and there is no risk to children who have already been injected.

We have already vaccinated 60,000 children against measles and there has been no previous problem. The same crews also previously carried out a polio campaign, where they vaccinated 252,000 children across seven rounds, and there were no abnormal complications.”

More than 190,000 Syrians have been killed during the foreign-backed war since 2011, which has also created more than 3 million refugees outside Syria.

Sources:

1. At least 34 Syrian children die from contaminated measles vaccine

2. Dozens of children feared dead after being injected with ‘tainted’ measles vaccine in Syria


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