Collateral damage: Six child protection units to shut down after ban on NGO

Save the Children’s closure could negatively impact rights of children.


Riaz Ahmad July 04, 2015
Save the Children’s closure in Islamabad could negatively impact rights of children. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The closure of international NGO Save the Children’s operations in the country could result in the shutdown of at least six child protection units across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to insiders, there are currently 12 child protection units established in the province under the Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010. The provincial government had only provided funds to set up one of these units along with the Child Protection and Welfare Secretariat. The remaining units were put in place with the help of UNICEF and Save the Children.

They are currently operating in Peshawar, Kohat, Swabi, Abbottabad, Bannu, Buner, Charsadda, Mardan, Lower Dir, Chitral, Battagram and Swat.

“Five of these units were set up with funds obtained from UNICEF while six more were established through financial assistance from Save the Children,” an official from the Child Protection and Welfare Secretariat told The Express Tribune. The six units funded by Save the Children will no longer have the stream of aid.

“The interior ministry’s decision to ask international NGOs to stop functioning in K-P could negatively impact a number of projects funded by them,” he added.

Beyond apathy

According to the official, the law stipulates the provincial government should provide adequate funding to establish a child protection unit in every district.

“However, the government is reluctant to provide the funds even though the annual cost of setting up a unit is just Rs4 million,” he added.

Rights and privileges

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Imran Takkar, a child rights activist, said the relevant authorities should focus on dealing with the factors that compel children to flee their homes and live on the streets.

“You cannot protect children without involving the entire community,” he said. “A series of steps should be taken for the welfare of children.”

Sealed

On June 12, the offices of Save the Children were sealed in Islamabad. The decision was taken on the directives of the interior ministry for its alleged involvement in anti-state activities. Two days later, the interior ministry allowed the international NGO to resume operations in Pakistan. However, on June 15, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denied the decision to close the aid organisation had been withdrawn. Save the Children will no longer be functioning in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.

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