News release

Pakistan taking the lead in respectful handling of the dead

Islamabad (ICRC) – Handling dead bodies with respect and dignity in emergencies is the theme of a five-day course currently being run by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Islamabad, Pakistan. The course has attracted emergency responders from Afghanistan, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam who will benefit from national expertise.

The course covers the core principles of dead body management. It focuses on the new techniques and technologies of identifying and handling the dead with respect and dignity, and minimizing the trauma of bereaved families. The course also reflects on the challenges that commonly hamper communications and coordination in the aftermath of complex emergencies.

The event was inaugurated by the Member Operations National Disaster Management Authority, Brig. Ishtiaq Ahmed and head of ICRC delegation in Pakistan, Reto Stocker.

Brig. Ishtiaq Ahmed highlighted the steps taken by the government of Pakistan to improve in this area: "After a disaster, large or small, all victims should be recovered and identified for a number of reasons, ranging from the needs of the family to paying compensation or sorting out legal formalities."

Reto Stocker acknowledged how much Pakistan had improved its handling of the dead in recent emergencies. "We face frequent disasters in Pakistan and in the region. We need to prepare for disasters, and that includes how to handle the bodies of victims with respect," said Reto Stocker. He also reiterated the ICRC's support for establishing a centre of excellence for dead body management in Pakistan and the organization's willingness to provide technical expertise to help government institutions and private organizations improve even further.

Since 2010, the ICRC has organized 12 courses in Pakistan, training more than 340 emergency responders and forensic specialists.

For more information, please contact:
Najum Abbasi, ICRC Islamabad, tel. +92 300 852 91 08