Responding to reports that three female health workers have been killed by an unidentified gunman in an attack on a polio vaccination centre in Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province on Tuesday morning, Samira Hamidi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for South Asia said:
“This despicable and cowardly act has taken the lives of three women who were dedicating themselves to protecting the health of Afghan children. For working on a campaign that promises to vaccinate almost 10 million children under the age of five against a crippling disease, these women were targeted and murdered.
“We urge the Afghan authorities to immediately investigate this senseless act of violence and bring those responsible to justice. In the meantime, necessary security measures must be put in place to protect health workers for the duration of this vaccine rollout campaign.”
According to local media sources, the three women were killed in two separate incidents less than an hour apart.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. This week saw the start of Afghanistan’s annual polio vaccine campaign, which is run by the health ministry with the support of UNICEF.