NGOs condemn attacks on health workers in Pakistan

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

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3.5 million children affected by Pakistan flooding

(UNITED NATIONS) Aug. 21, 2010 – With the situation in flood-stricken Pakistan still unfolding, United Nations agencies said today they are redoubling their efforts to provide assistance to the millions of people affected by the disaster.

“The international community is mobilizing to provide aid to help the victims of the floods,” Elisabeth Byrs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told a news conference in Geneva.

“The situation is still unfolding… in some areas the flood waters are receding to reveal the utter destruction left behind, while in other areas the flood waters continue to rise, destroying homes, villages and crops.”

She added that the $460 million emergency response plan launched last week is now 55 percent funded, with an additional $42 million in pledges.

Jesuit Refugee Service does not have a presence in Pakistan. Therefore we are recommending that donations be made to Catholic Relief Services, which has a long-standing presence in Pakistan and is assisting those displaced by the flooding.

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UN refugee chief outraged at killing of staffer in Pakistan

The head of the United Nations refugee agency voiced his outrage at the shooting death of a staff member at a camp outside the north-west Pakistani town of Peshawar today.

The murder of Zill-e Usman, a 59-year-old Pakistani national who had served with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1984, is the third killing of the agency’s staff in the country in the past six months.

“There is no justification for attacks on humanitarian workers dedicated to the protection and care of the most vulnerable people,” said High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
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Pakistan's displaced children denied education

More than 360,000 people have fled fighting between the Pakistan military and Taliban in little more than a week and that number could double by the end of the year, UN officials said today.

The humanitarian news and analysis service, IRIN, filed the following report.

Khurram Khan, 11, from the Kabal area of Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where fighting between government troops and militants has displaced tens of thousands of civilians, was unable to attend school last year (after the Taliban blew it up) and may not be able to go in the near future either.

Like many others, he and his family have been forced to flee some 500 km to Lahore in eastern Pakistan.

Khurram’s father has no job. The family’s meager savings were spent getting down to Lahore and they have been forced to rent a home because the relatives they had planned to move in with were already inundated with others from Swat. Khurram has been sent out onto the streets to work to earn money for his family.
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500,000 people flee as Pakistan battle Taliban

Writing in The New York Times, Dexter Filkins and Alan Cowell report (click here for full story) up to half a million people have been displaced by recent fighting between Pakistani forces and Taliban fighters.

William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, said that up to 200,000 people had arrived in safe areas over the past few days and that there could be another 300,000 on the move or about to flee areas in northwestern Pakistan. “We could be talking about a total of one million” since last August including the latest displaced people, he said. The figure is much higher than previously reported by international organizations.