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Red Cross to resume operations in Pak at reduced scale

August 28, 2012 23:14 IST

The Red Cross on Tuesday said its operations in Pakistan will resume at a 'reduced scale' following a review undertaken after the brutal murder of a British aid worker in the restive Balochistan province.

Following a thorough review of its activities, the International Committee has 'reiterated its commitment to carry on with its work in Pakistan but on a reduced scale', said a statement from the organisation.

The ICRC has decided to terminate all activities for people affected by the current unrest in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas.

"All visits to detainees in Pakistan will also stop. As a result, the organisation's offices in Sindh province, where flood recovery work is now complete, and in Quetta are being closed," the statement said.

On May 10, the Red Cross put on hold most of its projects and recalled all foreign staff to the federal capital in the wake of the murder of Khalil Rasjed Dale, a health programme manager.

The beheaded body of 60-year-old Dale was found by police in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, on April 29. Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Islamabad,

Said, "We are ready to continue helping people in need, such as the wounded and the physically disabled, provided working conditions for our staff are adequate."

"In the coming weeks, we will coordinate with the Pakistani authorities the resumption of health services as conditions permit, in particular the re-opening of our surgical hospital in Peshawar, which closed down after the murder of our colleague," he added.

"Having worked in Pakistan for more than 60 years, we are aware that some of these decisions will affect vulnerable people in some areas. But we need to take into account the challenges faced by our staff and adjust our activities accordingly," Castella said.

The statement said ICRC's partnership with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and support for physical rehabilitation services, especially in Peshawar and Muzaffarabad, will continue.

It will also continue providing assistance for families seeking to restore and maintain contact with Pakistanis detained abroad.

The ICRC will maintain logistics assets in the country to support its operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and throughout the region.
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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