GENEVA — The U.N.’s health agency says it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the disease in Syria in 14 years.

World Health Organization spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer said Tuesday “the risk is high of spread across the region.”

Rosebauer says officials are investigating another 12 cases showing polio symptoms.

The Syrian conflict, which began as a largely peaceful uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, has triggered a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale, killing more than 100,000 people, driving nearly 7 million more from their homes and devastating cities and towns.A U.N. official has warned that diseases are spreading because of lack of access to basic hygiene and vaccinations.

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