WASHINGTON (Dec. 19, 2012) – The largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs strongly condemns the attacks this week against health workers in Pakistan, who were targeted for their efforts to help to eradicate polio in the country.
“These attacks against frontline health workers are senseless, cruel and counter-productive. We are deeply concerned about the safety of these health workers, whose only mandate is to eradicate polio and whose mission is purely humanitarian in nature,” said Samuel A. Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction.
“Such attacks are not only a tragedy, but also a major setback in global efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan – one of only three countries in the world where cases of the disease are still being reported,” added Worthington.
Humanitarian workers have been targets of violence in Pakistan and have been under increased suspicion following reports last year that the CIA staged an immunization campaign in order to gather information for counter-terrorism purposes.
“In order for health workers to deliver vital services, there needs to be mutual trust with the communities they serve. Any use of irresponsible tactics violates international humanitarian principles,” said Worthington.
InterAction wrote to then CIA director, General David Petraeus, in February to stress that any efforts undermining the neutrality of humanitarian work would have dramatic repercussions and must cease immediately.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 190 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. To learn more visit our website.