INGOs barred from carrying out relief operations in flood-hit areas

Published August 31, 2022
Men paddle on makeshift rafts as they cross a flooded street, amidst rainfall during the monsoon season in Hyderabad on August 24. — Reuters
Men paddle on makeshift rafts as they cross a flooded street, amidst rainfall during the monsoon season in Hyderabad on August 24. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: After spending $7.5 million and reaching out to 777,667 people to provide a humanitarian response, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been facing restrictions in carrying out relief activities in affected districts.

While Pakistan has asked the United Nations to launch a global appeal to cope with devastating floods, the authorities are still not giving permission to INGOs already operating in Pakistan.

Talking to journalists, Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) Country CoordinatorSyed Shahid Kazmi said INGOs performed a great role in the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods.

“This time the disaster is quite huge, a number of INGOs are not present in the country. There is a need to look at policies which hamper and delay the working of INGOs,” he said, adding that, “it is a known fact that Pakistan was among the top list of those countries which are highly vulnerable to climate change, and to deal with the current humanitarian crisis in a better way, the federal and provincial governments must facilitate INGOs.”

UN official calls for exemption of NOC conditions

He said the authorities for the time being should exempt no-objection certificate (NOC) conditions for INGOs and local NGOs and allow them to operate in disaster-hit areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the practice was adopted during Covid-19 to provide immediate response.

“In addition, a quick registration process is required for new INGOs in Pakistan to provide humanitarian response at a faster pace to the needy,” Mr Kazmi added. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) is a representative body of 38 INGOs duly registered with the interior ministry and working in Pakistan for various humanitarian and development initiatives.

The latest official figures highlight that a total of 33 million people have been affected by the recent floods and unusual weather patterns, and around 6.4 million people were in dire need of basic essentials that include food, shelter and so on.

Floods have caused damages in 37 districts of Balochistan, 33 districts in Sindh, 25 districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, seven in Punjab, four in Gilgit-Baltistan and four districts in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition, more than 949,858 houses were badly destroyed, two million acres of crops were badly impacted and 719,558 livestock animals were lost.

While speaking to PHF members, Julien Harneis, resident coordinator of the UN, said such a massive crisis required national and international solidarity for collective, coordinated and effective response.

PHF Executive Committee Chairman Farhan Ahmed Khan said to bring people back to normal life required massive efforts at all levels. He said the government should facilitate INGOs and humanitarian agencies who played a highly crucial role in these testing times.

A total of 22 INGOs including Action against Hunger -ACF, Care International, HelpAge, HHRD, Helvetas, Human Appeal, IMC, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Muslim Hands, NCA, Qatar Charity, Relief International, Save the Children, Tearfund, SIF, WHH -Welthungerhilfe-, CBM, AKAH, WaterAid, Mercy Corps were providing extensive response and reached out to 153,898 people affected by floods.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022

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