Red Cross pretty much says goodbye to Pakistan after beheading


Khalil Rasjed Dale

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Tuesday it was halting most of its aid programs in Pakistan due to deteriorating security and the beheading of a British staff doctor in April blamed on Taliban insurgents.

The independent agency, which had already suspended operations in three of Pakistan’s four provinces in May pending a security assessment, said it would carry on working in the country “but on a reduced scale”.

“All relief and protection activities are being stopped. All projects of rehabilitation, economic projects, have been terminated,” said Jacques de Maio, head of ICRC operations in South Asia, on one of the organization’s blog.

“We have closed a number of offices. We are also terminating all visits to detainees in Pakistan,” he added…

The agency, which rarely suspends its operations even in war zones, has worked in the country since the end of British colonial rule in 1947…It was providing mainly health services and physical rehabilitation for victims of violence and natural disasters, many of whom have lost limbs.

The ICRC said it would focus on treating patients wounded in fighting and aimed to reopen a surgical field hospital in Peshawar. It has been closed since the murder of staff member Khalil Rasjed Dale, abducted by suspected militants in January.

The beheaded body of Dale, who ran a health program in the southwestern city of Quetta in the Baluchistan province, was found on April 29.

Sometimes it just ain’t worth the lives of brave people – committed to aiding the cause of human relief – inside a nation incapable of minimum standards of law and order, unable to provide safety and succor to its citizens and volunteers aiding those citizens.

This is Pakistan’s loss.

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