Insecurity haunts aid workers in Pakistan anew

A Pakistani soldier stands guard during an aid distribution for flood victims in Pakistan. The murder of a kidnapped aid worker has renewed security fears among NGOs in the country. Photo by: Joshua Kruger / CC BY-SA

The murder of a kidnapped British aid worker Sunday (April 29) has renewed security fears among nongovernmental organizations working in Pakistan.

Kidnapping has been a longtime concern in Pakistan: The country has the fourth-highest incidences of aid worker attacks in the latest Aid Worker Security Report. But Khalil Dale’s death could portend worsening security in the strife-torn nation.

The latest incident caused alarm among other NGOs especially because it involved a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Despite the ICRC’s work of operating in conflict and often in dangerous places, the organization is known for its neutral working policy.

One aid worker, who was not identified, told the Guardian Dale’s murder is “likely” to force NGOs to reevaluate their work in the country. A spokesman for the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum said NGOs will have to rethink security procedures and assess whether foreign aid workers can continue to operate in Balochistan, the province where Dale’s body was found.

Dale’s killers left a note on his body saying he was “slaughtered” because their demands were not met. ICRC spokesman Sean Maguire said the organization “did everything possible to try to get Khalil out” except pay ransom. Maguire said the organization has a policy of not paying any ransom to keep people safe “wherever they are.”

  

“I think the message going out from the Taliban here is, when we kidnap people in the future we are serious about harming these people, and that’s a very difficult message to deal with,” Pakistan expert Shaun Gregory told the BBC.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.