ISLAMABAD: With the government directing to reopen the construction sector and hundreds of migrant workers expected to arrive, a plan has been devised to set up shelter homes in public sector schools of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi on an emergency basis to house and feed them.
In this regard, the support of a welfare service has been sought to operate these shelters, officials said.
"A rapid assessment process has already been initiated to identify places where the emergency 'Panahgahs' - shelter homes - can be set up because of the possible boost in construction activities in the twin cities," said Prime Minister Imran Khan's Focal Person on Shelter Homes Naseemur Rehman on Sunday. He was holding a meeting with a delegation from the Saylani Welfare Trust, led by its Chairman Bashir Farooq Qadri. The meeting followed a similar meeting between Qadri’s organisation and PM Imran the other day.
Following instructions from the prime minister, a plan has been prepared to set up these facilities and ensure an uninterrupted supply of food there before the advent of the holy month of Ramazan.
Rehman said that apart from Saylani Welfare Trust, he was in contact with other stakeholders to ensure that medicines are supplied for beneficiaries of shelter homes.
"Our focus is not only on the provision of food and shelter to the poor but also their protection from the imminent threat of Covid-19," he said.
He added that all efforts will be made to provide a healthy environment at these temporary facilities, adding that radios will be installed in these shelters to sensitise beneficiaries about precautionary measures such as social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks. Qadri assured Rehman of support for the government’s plan.
He added that teams of Saylani will support the management of shelter homes in carrying out day-to-day affairs at the district level.
"We have found this partnership very rewarding, especially in terms of delivering food to the needy and helpless in such an effective manner," the trust’s chairman said, adding, "It is for the first time in the history of the country that we have seen such deep and steadfast commitment on the part of the government for the welfare and well-being of the poor."
"Even the concept of giving care to the poor and needy is transforming itself, and that comes from the highest level of political commitment,” said Rehman. A special plan for Ramazan was also discussed in which static food centres of Saylani trust will be replaced with mobile ones.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2020.