Afghans Agree to Polio Cease-Fire
.c The Associated Press
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Afghanistan's warring factions have tentatively agreed to a three-day cease-fire to allow the United Nations to carry out a polio vaccination campaign.
The ruling Taliban and its northern-based opponents gave a verbal promise to UNICEF that they will not fight from May 1-3 when the immunization will be done, the United Nations said in a statement Friday. UNICEF hopes to vaccinate 4.5 million children under 5 years old.
The United Nations wants the agreement in writing before it starts the project.
``Our hope is that the authorities and officials throughout Afghanistan will maintain a cease-fire on behalf of their children,'' the statement quoted Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF's representative for Afghanistan, as saying.
Afghanistan is one of 30 countries where polio continues to cripple people, mostly young children, the statement said.
There were 156 new polio cases in Afghanistan in 1999, and ``this may be only a fraction of the total number,'' said M.A. Jama, a representative of the World Health Organization.
The Taliban rule almost 90 percent of the country, including the capital of Kabul. They are fighting the opposition alliance in a bid to rule all of Afghanistan.
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