ISLAMABAD: As ill-luck would have it, Pakistan made into top ten humanitarian crises of the world this year, an independent global organisation reported.
The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is coming up with a list of top ten humanitarian crises since 1998 and it is the second consecutive year that Pakistan is in the list of leading crises-hit countries.
The list is drawn from MSF’s operational activities in about 70 countries, where the organisation’s medical teams witnessed some of the worst humanitarian conditions.
According to the report, three distinct patterns dominated in crises-hit areas of the world. 1) governments blocked lifesaving assistance to trapped populations including Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Sudan, where aid groups including some MSF teams were expelled; 2) respect for civilian safety and neutral humanitarian action further eroded such as in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia where people, in some cases aid workers, were either indiscriminately or directly attacked; 3) people suffering from a host of largely ignored diseases were again neglected by the international community and those living with HIV/Aids saw their chances of receiving life extending therapy further diminished.
Difficult living conditions in Pakistan’s more remote regions were made even worse by violence, which has escalated over the last two years. Insecurity and travel restrictions limit provision of medical services to people most in need.
The MSF was unable to provide medical support during fighting in Kurram, Swat, and South Waziristan.
The report critically observed that in a region where western powers were involved in counterinsurgency operations, provision of humanitarian aid had largely been linked with political objectives.
In Pakistan, the MSF does not accept funding from any government relying solely on private donations from the general public.
“There is no question that civilians are increasingly victimised in conflicts and further cut off from lifesaving assistance, often deliberately,” said MSF International Council president Dr Christophe Fournier.
Earlier, in February, two MSF medical workers, Riaz Ahmad and Nisar Ali, were shot and killed while driving in a marked ambulance en route to retrieve civilians injured in fighting in the town of Charbagh, it said.
Over one million people reportedly fled Swat during the military operation against militants. Thousands of them were treated by MSF teams at relief camps in Mardan, Malakand, Peshawar and Lower Dir, it said.
With the start of military operation in South Waziristan, about 300,000 people reportedly fled towards the neighbouring district of Dera Ismail Khan.
MSF teams identified significant needs in hospitals but authorities were still refusing to authorise presence of international staff. Fighting in Fata’s Kurram Agency has led to the ‘near-collapse’ of the local health system.
Conflict and suffering also continued in Balochistan where residents have long been neglected and marginalised.
Healthcare capacity of the region is minimal at best; infant and maternal mortality rates are very high. Up to end of Nov, MSF treated over 3,509 malnourished children.
The MSF also provided healthcare to Afghan refugees and locals near Quetta and the Afghan border, supporting mother and child healthcare – between 100 and 150 babies delivered each month.
“The tremendous resources devoted to the H1N1 pandemic in developed countries illustrates the response capacity for global health threats when the political will exists,” said Dr Fournier.
“Regrettably, we fail to see the same commitments made to combat diseases claiming millions of more lives each year.”
Right now, international assistance to fight malnutrition amounts $350 million while the World Bank estimates $11.2 billion to adequately combat disease in 36 high burden countries.
source : dawn