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UNICEF: Massive Sudan Polio Vax Loss

FILE: In this photo provided by UNICEF, refugees rest under a tree to protect themselves from the sun and heat after crossing into the village of Koufroun, near the Chad-Sudan border, in Chad, April 27, 2023. (UNICEF via AP)

GENEVA - More than 1 million polio vaccines have been lost as collateral damage in Sudan during the upsurge in violence since April, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF told Reuters on Friday.

"A number of cold chain facilities have been looted, damaged and destroyed, including over a million polio vaccines in South Darfur," Hazel De Wet, deputy director of the Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF told Reuters in an email.

The agency was in the middle of a series of polio vaccination campaigns in Sudan following an outbreak at the end of 2022. But the raging conflict between the Sudan army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has made humanitarian aid difficult if not deadly to pursue.

Africa was declared free of wild polio in 2020.