2. Ten children from the Deir al-Zor province in Syria’s rural east have polio, and 12 more cases are under investigation, according to WHO.
3. The polio virus, which mainly affects children 5 and under, is often spread by consuming food or liquid contaminated with feces.
4. Before the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, 91% of children had received polio vaccinations.
5. Now an estimated 68% — or 500,000 children — have not been immunized, according to U.N. estimates.
6. In Deir al-Zor alone, there are more than 100,000 children, all under age 5, now at risk of polio.
7. “We are beyond concerned,” UNICEF’s Juliette Touma told BuzzFeed. “There aren’t enough words to describe the situation of these children. Today the story is about polio. But the Syrian crisis is becoming a global issue that the world needs to address.”
8. Polio has been largely eliminated in developing countries, but it remains endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
A worldwide campaign to eradicate polio (like the one pictured here in Afghanistan) has had resounding success: Cases have fallen by over 99% since 1988, from around 350,000 then to 223 in 2012.
10. The conflict has destabilized generations of Syrians, especially children.
11. More than 3 million children inside Syria are in need of humanitarian services, according to UNICEF.
12. More than 2 million children have dropped out of school, according to UNICEF.
13. Many more have suffered from disruptions to their education: relocations, violence, and the destruction of school buildings like this one. More than 1 million children have been forced to flee the country.
18. To address the problems in Syria and regional refugee camps, aid groups are working to build schools and clinics and to expand learning and safe spaces.
Students pose for a picture after receiving bags donated from UNICEF in Raqqa, eastern Syria, Sept. 29, 2013.
19. The aim, they say, is to address immediate humanitarian needs — and to give Syrian children what sense of normalcy they can.
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