GENEVA, Switzerland, With support from UN agencies, a nationwide polio immunisation campaign was launched in Yemen, by the national health authorities, aiming to immunise five million children, under the age of five,the World Health Organisation (WHO), said.

This is the first polio immunisation campaign since Apr, 2016. The security situation in Yemen has limited accessibility of many parts of the country, leaving many children at risk of vaccine preventable diseases.

According to WHO, more than 40,000 health workers are taking part in the three-day campaign. In addition, religious and local council's officials, as well as, health educators are also mobilising support for the campaign. High-risk groups, such as internally displaced persons and refugees, will also be reached.

"WHO is working closely with UNICEF and health authorities, to keep Yemen polio-free. The threat of virus importation is serious, and this campaign aims to curb any possible return of the virus to Yemen," said Nevio Zagaria, WHO acting representative in Yemen.

"WHO and its partners will continue to support the health authorities in increasing the vaccination coverage across Yemen," Zagaria added.

As the nearly two-year-old armed conflict in Yemen has been posing threats to the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), WHO has supported the programme to keep polio vaccines safe through providing fuel, generators and solar-powered refrigerators, to ensure the functionality of vaccine storage, as well as, cold chain transferring them from the war-torn areas into safer places.

"Despite huge security challenges, WHO is committed to supporting polio immunisation campaigns and all activities of the EPI, to maintain the polio-free status, achieved by the country in 2006," said Zagaria.