Pakistani charity urges government to lift flood ban on some NGOs

Pakistani charity urges government to lift flood ban on some NGOs

A general view of makeshift tents where flood victims shelter after rains and floods during the rainy season in Bajara village, Sehwan, Pakistan, August 31, 2022. REUTERS/Yasir Rajput/File Photo

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KARACHI, Pakistan, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s largest charity, the Edhi Foundation, called on the government on Friday to lift a years-long ban on a number of international non-governmental organizations so they can help respond to the catastrophic floods.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in the northern mountains have caused flooding that has killed at least 1,208 people, destroyed infrastructure and flooded 2 million acres of farmland. read more

“I call on the government to immediately lift the one-year ban on international NGOs so they can help people,” Faisal Edhi, head of the Edhi Foundation, told reporters on Friday.

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Pakistan launched a crackdown on international NGOs almost a decade ago, accusing them of “anti-state activities” in Pakistan. By 2018, some of them were officially asked to leave under new and stricter laws.

Eidhi said they should be allowed to return.

International NGOs were active on the ground when Pakistan was hit by floods in 2010 and a devastating earthquake in 2005, and played an important role in relief and reconstruction efforts.

The government is struggling to respond to the current floods given their unprecedented scale.

Edhi, who returned to the port city of Karachi after spending nine days in flood-hit areas, described the situation as grim.

“The situation is very bad and it looks like it will get worse. People’s involvement in relief cannot be overlooked, as was the case in the 2010 floods and the 2005 earthquake,” he said.

He said that despite efforts, 90% of those affected were not covered. The Pakistani government said 33 million people – 15% of the population – were affected.

One of the most notorious NGOs banned and expelled was Save the Children, which the government linked to a Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help with the hunt that led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

Save the Children, which has been active in Pakistan for 35 years, has denied involvement.

More than a third of those killed in the current floods are children, 416 of whom have been confirmed dead. The United Nations warned that more children could die within days.

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Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Jonathan Oytis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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