The ICRC in Pakistan
The ICRC has been working in Pakistan since 1947, when it helped set up refugee camps for the millions displaced by partition. Operations continued during the conflicts with India, the 1971 war of separation from Bangladesh, and in connection with armed violence, earthquakes and floods. Following the April 2012 murder of a staff member, the ICRC has had to scale back its operations in order to protect its personnel.
Over the past decade, the ICRC has carried out a wide range of activities for the victims of violence or natural disaster, particularly the sick, wounded or disabled. The organization has raised awareness of the danger of mines and unexploded ordnance, brought news of Pakistanis detained abroad to their families, visited detainees and spread knowledge of international humanitarian law.
In addition to helping the Pakistan Red Crescent Society prepare for disasters, it has worked with the National Society to provide basic health care, restore contact between family members separated from one another and promote humanitarian principles.
Murder of ICRC staff member leads to scaling-back of activities
In January 2012, the ICRC’s health programme manager Khalil Rasjed Dale was kidnapped in Quetta, Balochistan. He was brutally killed in April 2012. The incident forced the ICRC to suspend its activities in Pakistan and undertake a thorough review of its presence in the country, weighing the humanitarian impact of its activities against the risks faced by its staff.
On 23 August 2012, following the review process, the ICRC informed the Pakistani government that it remained committed to continuing its work, but would be reducing the scale of its activities in the country.
For the time being, ICRC operations in Pakistan will focus on treating people injured by armed violence. The ICRC will continue to support physical rehabilitation services and hopes to reopen its surgical hospital in Peshawar.
In addition, the ICRC will continue to support the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and to help maintain links between Pakistanis detained abroad and their families inside the country.
Sadly, the ICRC has had to suspend all other operations that were benefiting people in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The organization has also suspended its visits to detainees.
The ICRC is in regular consultation with the government with a view to re-launching some or all of the activities that are currently suspended.