The International Committee of the Red Cross has decided to suspend operations in two cities in Pakistan. This comes after the humanitarian organization discontinued work in Balochistan province, following the murder of a British staff member.
Activities in the cities of Peshawar and Karachi have been “put on hold,” according to a press release. Further, Red Cross spokesman Christian Cardon said 900 local workers have been put on paid leave and 80 foreign staffers sent back to the country’s capital, Islamabad, CNN reports.
ICRC’s move paints a picture of the dilemma faced by humanitarian organizations in Pakistan, where seven aid workers abducted in 2011 and 2012 have remained hostage as of May 7, according to a Pakistan Humanitarian Forum report. While aid remains critical in the country, the safety of humanitarian workers is also a priority.
The Red Cross is “painfully aware” of the impact its decision has on the sick and vulnerable people in Pakistan. But recent attacks on the organization’s staff members, including the death of Khalil Dale, have forced the agency to “completely reassess” its work in the country, ICRC head of operations for South Asia Jacques de Maio said.
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