Red Cross makes 'painful' decision to stop work in 2 Pakistani cities

Two trucks for delivering Red Cross supplies in Pakistan. The humanitarian aid group will put on hold its operations in two cities in Pakistan. Photo by: Barry Loo / U.S. Department of Defense

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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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.