Relief SCENE:Children
Insurgents Stop Polio Immunization
No Reason Given For Move
By AK 04/30/2011
Militant insurgent group al-Shabaab has ordered an immediate halt to a polio immunization program in the Bay region.

Staff from the World Health Organization, which was involved in running the program to administer anti-polio drops to young children, said they had no idea why they directive was given.

“An al-Shabaab officer come and ordered us to stop the work,” a WHO employee in Baidoa, the capital of Bay region, told Somalia Report. “Our office asked why they did this, but they gave no reason.”

Al-Shabaab’s governor in the Bay region, Sheikh Mahad Omar Abdi Karim, refused to comment on the move. Al-Shabaab has already instituted bans on foreign aid across many areas it controls.

The WHO and the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) began working with local authorities across Somalia in late March to immunize every eligible child. The last recorded outbreak of polio in Somalia came in 2007.