Peacekeeping: God Wills That The Children Die

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June 7, 2007: Peacekeeping in areas cursed with the presence of Islamic militants is complicated by frequent intolerance for foreign medical assistance. Islamic radicals like to insist that Western medicines are actually poisons, usually intended to make Moslems sterile. A recent example of this is being encountered in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are spreading the rumor that government attempts to vaccinate women and children against tetanus and measles are actually efforts to poison the recipients of these medicines. Further complicating the situation are Islamic militants, inflamed by these Taliban accusations, who have been kidnapping or attacking health workers (assigned to deliver the vaccinations). As a result of intense Taliban pressure, the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand half the women, and about 15 percent of the children, could not be vaccinated. The higher proportion of unvaccinated women resulted from Taliban insistence that it was un-Islamic for a woman to receive a vaccination from a male medical technician. It was also considered immoral, by the Taliban, for female medical technicians to operate in the area.

Many Moslems in areas like Helmand, understand the importance of the vaccinations. But the Taliban have guns, and are prone to get violent with anyone who opposes them. This particular aspect of Islamic fundamentalism is having widespread repercussions. African Islamic radicals halted a vaccination campaign that was about to wipe out polio. This has enabled the dreaded disease to hang on, and be spread again to areas where it has been eliminated, by infected African Moslems who travel to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage. Millions of Moslems from other parts of the world are also in Mecca, and some get infected with the Polio and carry it back to their homelands.

Actually, the Taliban does not have an official policy of opposing these vaccinations. But the Taliban is cursed with a lot of ignorant and impulsive followers, and Taliban PR specialists have to work overtime to placate the mass media about these medical misadventures.

 


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