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Pakistan: ICRC activities July to December 2007

15-01-2008 Operational Update

The ICRC in Pakistan focuses most of its activities on providing medical assistance and relief to the victims of armed violence and to visiting detainees and maintaining contact between those deprived of their freedom and their families.

Activities include following detainees returning home from detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and US military bases in Afghanistan, restoring and maintaining links between families and those still detained abroad, visiting places of detention according to working modalities applied worldwide, supporting hospitals along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan and improving access to physical rehabilitation services.

Throughout the period under review the ICRC also continued its assistance activities on behalf of those affected by the earthquake in 2005.

 Detainees  

With the agreement and support of the Pakistani federal and provincial authorities, the ICRC continued to carry out visits to places of detention run by the Ministry of the Interior. During the period under review, the ICRC conducted 17 detention visits to 13 prisons in Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province, Punjab and Sindh.

The ICRC gave detainees the opportunity to family news with their loved ones through its Red Cross Messages and Tracing Agency Services. Between July and December 2007, more than 1,420 messages were collected and distributed both within Pakistan and to or from those held in Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay.

 Medical assistance  

During the second half of the year, the ICRC continued to offer medical assistance to those injured in fighting or by mines and other explosive remnants of war in conflict-affected areas, mainly along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In particular, the ICRC continued, through its programme to assist the weapon-wounded, to provide support to local hospitals in the areas of Bannu, Tank, Peshawar and Quetta. During the period under review, around 500 weapon-wounded patients benefited from the medical services extended by the ICRC to these hospitals.

In addition, with the outbreak of fighting in Kurram Agency and Swat Valley (NWFP) ICRC also provided medial support to the hospitals in Sadda and Parachinar regions, which treated 50 weapon-wounded patients during the clashes. In response to the continued fighting in the district of Swat, the ICRC also gave medical assistance to the hospital of Saidu Sharif.

Physical rehabilitation services also continued on behalf of the disabled living in conflict or earthquake affected areas. With the opening of the Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Centre in October 2007, accessibility to ICRC services improved dramatically in a region that had not previously benefited from this kind of support. Amputees and other disabled people have been provided with artificial limbs through the ICRC's comprehensive referral system.

The Pakistan Institute for Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences (PIPOS) in Peshawar and the Christian Hospital Rehabilitation Centre in Quetta continue to fit appliances for patients referred to them by the ICRC.

Also during this period, the team at Peshawar referred 351 Afghan patients to the ICRC's Jalalabad physical rehabilitation centre. Overall, more than 1,000 patients benefited from ICRC physical rehabilitation services offered by ICRC supported centres across Pakistan.

This period also marked the launch of the Home Care Project in Peshawar aimed at covering the needs of those with spinal cord injuries. The objective of the programme is to support patients after the conclusion of their medical treatment to enab le them to live in the utmost dignity and independence. The programme also aims to support those providing rehabilitation services to develop their professional skills and knowledge. In the period under review, the ICRC helped 36 people with spinal cord injuries.

 Assistance in earthquake-affected areas  

    

In the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, the ICRC continues to carry out reconstruction work for the communities of the Nehlum and Jhelum valleys in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and provide assistance in the fields of health, water, sanitation and livelihood programmes.

 Health  

To improve access to quality health care services for the population of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the ICRC has worked to re-establish a functioning primary health care system. The ICRC has handed over responsibility for the facilities of the rural health centre in Dhanni and the basic health unit in Pattika to the Ministry of Health.

 Livelihood Programmes  

ICRC livelihood programmes include the distribution of livestock, walnut tree saplings and the repair of infrastructure such as irrigation canals and water mills.

From July to December 2007, the ICRC:

  • distributed 1,307 cows and 1,288 calves to more than 9,000 beneficiaries in 43 villages in the councils of Khouri, Panjkot and Khouri Union

  • financed and facilitated a three-week training programme for 14 community animal health workers

  • conducted a one-month training session on art ificial insemination for ten technicians in Punjab in the framework of improving restocking and breeding

  • identified and repaired nine damaged watermills in nine villages in Jhelum valley

  • distributed 2,900 walnut saplings in Kaimanja, Chinarri and Gujarbandi Union Councils in Jhelum valley. The distribution was conducted in collaboration with staff from the Department of Agriculture.

  • conducted, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, a one-day training session on planting for 2,665 beneficiaries in 21 villages of five Union Councils.

  • assisted 188 displaced families with non-food items such as tarpaulins, blankets and clothes

  • completed a feasibility study on the socio-economic reintegration of amputees treated at the Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Centre. To date, 20 applications have been received for grants or vocational training with all decisions pending.

 Water and habitat  

In cooperation with local communities, the rehabilitation of rural water schemes continues to be carried out in a number of Union councils based on joint implementation agreements.

To date, a total of 95 rural water supply projects have been completed serving 70,000 earthquake-affected beneficiaries. In addition, four irrigation schemes for around 3,000 beneficiaries have been completed in the Jhelum valley.

The water treatment plant at Hattian Bala in Jhelum valley has been rehabilitated and is providing safe water supplies to a population of around 10,000 people.

 Cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society  

The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society continue to work together to carry out activities in the country. At the sa me time, the ICRC maintains regular contacts with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and with National Society partners working in the country.

    

The Pakistani Red Crescent Society and the ICRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the promotion of the hygiene project that is scheduled to begin at the beginning of 2008.

The ICRC supported the PRCS to organize one-day tracing courses for the volunteers of staff of Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and AJK.

With ICRC support, the Sindh branch of the PRCS organized several medical camps for the victims of the cyclone in coastal areas. The ICRC also contributed food supplies for flooding victims in Balochistan. In addition, the ICRC provided two trucks as logistical support to the PRCS to transport relief goods to field offices in Balochistan and Sindh.

 Promotion of IHL  

The ICRC continues to maintain and strengthen contacts with the national authorities in Pakistan with a view to promoting international humanitarian law and gaining support for the ICRC's activities.

During this period, the ICRC also continued to support and assist the Pakistani armed forces to integrate IHL into their doctrine, training and education programmes and to improve their capacity to teach the law. It also sought to strengthen knowledge and respect for IHL among other sectors of society.

To this end, the ICRC between July and December 2007,

  • conducted 4 IHL dissemination sessions and 4 instructional courses at key training establishments

  • sponsored a senior officer to participate in an IHL workshop in Switzerland

  • sponsored a university professor to att end the 11th South Asian teaching session on IHL in India

  • organized its annual moot court competition with the participation of 45 students across Pakistan

  • held seminars on the compatibility of basic principles of IHL and Islamic Law in Bagh and in Multan for teachers, scholars and female madrassah students

  • strengthened contacts with the Pakistani media through bilateral meetings in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Peshawar.