News / Asia

ICRC Suspends Most Operations in Pakistan

Pakistani security officials stand next to the covered body of Red Cross worker Khalil Dale in Quetta April 29, 2012.Pakistani security officials stand next to the covered body of Red Cross worker Khalil Dale in Quetta April 29, 2012.
x
Pakistani security officials stand next to the covered body of Red Cross worker Khalil Dale in Quetta April 29, 2012.
Pakistani security officials stand next to the covered body of Red Cross worker Khalil Dale in Quetta April 29, 2012.
Sean Maroney
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has stopped most of its relief operations in Pakistan following the brutal murder of one of its workers.  These types of killings are making it increasingly difficult for foreign aid groups to operate in the country.

The decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross to suspend operations in three of Pakistan's four provinces is expected to affect thousands of people who depend on the aid.

ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk tells VOA the move is in response to the murder of 60-year-old Khalil Dale, who worked for the organization in Baluchistan province.

"Due to this recent attack against the ICRC, we decided to completely reassess the balance between the humanitarian impact of our activities and the risks that our staff face," said Isyuk.

Authorities recovered the mutilated body of the British aid worker on April 29, four months after suspected militants abducted him on his way home from work in the city of Quetta.  A note with the body said Dale died because the Red Cross failed to pay ransom for his return.

The ICRC suspended its work in Baluchistan immediately after the discovery of Dale's body.  On Thursday, the organization extended the suspension to the northwestern city of Peshawar and Pakistan's most populous city, Karachi, and said it was unclear when work would resume.

Steve Claborne is with the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum, an umbrella organization that helps coordinate efforts among 48 aid agencies.

"In the last several years, the numbers of those who were either killed or kidnapped has increased," said Claborne. "And just in this year, we've had kind of a rash of kidnappings across the country, which is a new phenomenon.  And it also is affecting national organizations, national non-profit humanitarian organizations, as well."

According to PHF estimates, at least 18 aid workers have been murdered and more than 20 others abducted in Pakistan since 2009.  And Claborne says these are just the cases that make headlines.  He says abduction for ransom has become a big business in Pakistan.

Claborne, who also is the country director for the non-profit group Mercy Corps, says suspending operations is the correct response after an organization is targeted.  But he recommends taking certain steps from the beginning to help limit the risk of any sort of attack.

"If you have the time or ability to work with local leaders and local communities, to explain your program, to be transparent in what you do, to be completely above board in your transactions, then 99 percent of the time there will be humanitarian space," he said.

Unfortunately, Claborne says the writ of the government is severely limited in many of the areas aid groups operate, making it very difficult to have those conversations.  And with no arrests in any of the recent abduction cases, he says much more work remains to be done.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid