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Pakistan to use polio vaccine checkpoints in Taliban areas

AFP  |  Peshawar 

Pakistani officials said today they would begin administering polio vaccines to children at security checkpoints in the country's lawless tribal belt.

The announcement was made at a ceremony to mark the launch of a three-day anti-polio campaign in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and is aimed at children from North Waziristan and other strongholds.

Farakh Sair Khan, a senior administrative official for the restive tribal areas, told the gathering the new strategy would "vaccinate children belonging to areas that are not accessible for the polio workers."

"North Waziristan is affected most by the polio virus and unfortunately we had not been able to vaccinate the children there for security reasons but we are trying to overcome it," Khan said.

As many as 2643 polio teams will be participating in the campaign to vaccinate children under five, he added.

North Waziristan is a stronghold of Pakistan's most feared and ruthless fighters, including the Pakistani and Haqqani Network, and is virtually inaccessible due to the risk posed by internal clashes and targeted violence against outsiders.

"We will establish over 50 vaccination sites next to the checkpoints of security forces," said Shahdab Younis, an official of the UNICEF told AFP.

First Published: Tue, April 15 2014. 02:13 IST