ICRC shuts three offices – more could follow

Published: January 5, 2012

The organisation has had a permanent presence in Pakistan since 1981.

PESHAWAR: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the private humanitarian institution which has carried out operations even during the First and Second World Wars, has found the ‘current situation and constraints’ on its Pakistani mission, particularly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) taxing enough to thoroughly review its setup in the country.

The ICRC has already shut down three of its offices in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, simultaneously working on limiting its staff in Pakistan, said an ICRC official. “The reason behind the closure and limiting of staff in Pakistan was because of questions being raised about the operational procedure of the ICRC,” said ICRC Operational Communicational Manager Najam Saqib Iqbal.

“For the time being, we are closing down our centres in Hangu, Swat and Temargara (Lower Dir),” Saqib told The Express Tribune, adding that the current process would not be limited to K-P but the entire country.

However, a senior ICRC official requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that the organisation would be limited to Peshawar only. “We have  problems in Quetta also, but we will continue in the main towns with limited staff,” said the official.

A statement issued by the ICRC late on Wednesday said the organisation was facing increasing difficulties for the last few years in accessing areas and populations. “In addition, issues related to the ICRC’s scope of activities and set-up have been raised repeatedly … that is why the organisation is in the process of a thorough review of its setup with no more comments available at this time,” the statement read.

When contacted, ICRC Head of Sub-Delegation Peshawar, James Reynolds told The Express Tribune that the organisation was facing problems – however, he refused to comment about the nature of the troubles being faced by ICRC.

“We want to continue and carry on our process of helping humanity,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds went on to confirm the reports of limiting staff in certain offices but made it a point to mention that the organisation would still carry out activities in the area (Peshawar) through their main offices because of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

The ICRC has been one of the major organisations working in the militancy-hit areas of Hangu, Swat and Lower Dir. The organisation has been given access to these areas and in return the organisation has helped out by initiating different social and economic uplift programmes, particularly in the conflict zones. It is feared that the closure of its offices outside K-P will be disastrous for the flood victims and internally displaced persons in the country.

The organisation has had a permanent presence in Pakistan since 1981, initially concerned with helping victims of the armed conflict in Afghanistan. Its current operational focus is on assisting victims of the armed violence affecting K-P, Balochistan and other areas.

(Read: Another attempt – ‘Amateur’ bomb goes off outside Red Cross office, no one hurt)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.

Reader Comments (9)

  • Javed Afridi
    Jan 5, 2012 - 4:15AM

    No wonder they are shutting down. Rather it’s surprising they were, until now, operating in areas such as Swat, Dir and Hangu.

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  • Cautious
    Jan 5, 2012 - 4:23AM

    You know things are bad when the Red Cross finds conditions unacceptable and gets ready to leave. Lets hope this isn’t the beginning of a stampede. of NGO’s.

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  • Falcon
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:16AM

    Don’t get how these things are working. At one point under Musharraf, we were giving visa to every Tom and Dick without questioning their objectives. Now we have swung to the other end of the spectrum; constraining operations of even non-profit humanitarian organizations.

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  • Not me
    Jan 5, 2012 - 8:20AM

    Money and security are the main reason it seems

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  • Jan 5, 2012 - 10:12AM

    and our agencies are our to get this government, instead of doing their job of targeting the terrorists…

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  • Any
    Jan 5, 2012 - 10:21AM

    Don’t worry .. Pakistan has a friends Higher than Himalayas .. and Deeper than Oceans .. and sweeter than Honey .. Pakistan will be OK!!!!!

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  • Anwar
    Jan 5, 2012 - 11:54AM

    Very bad

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  • Mahmood
    Jan 5, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Seems strange that why Govt want ICRC to reduce its operations, since ICRC work proved worldwide as sign of helping humanity, and Red Cross did an excellent jod in Muzafarabad during earth quick, IDP Swat, Hangu, and in flood.

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  • Jan 5, 2012 - 3:23PM

    After Raymond Davis everyone is packing there luggage. Something fishy…right?

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