GENEVA, May 10 – The Red Cross said Thursday it was reviewing its presence in Pakistan following the murder of a British aid worker found beheaded last month.
Health programme manager Khalil Rasjed Dale, 60, was abducted in January and his mutilated body was found dumped in a bag on the outskirts of Quetta in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediately froze its operations in the area and on Thursday said it had decided to put on hold its activities in Peshawar and Karachi as it reviews its presence in Pakistan.
“The recent attack against the ICRC compels us to completely reassess the balance between the humanitarian impact of our activities and the risks faced by our staff,” said Jacques de Maio, head of operations for South Asia.
The organisation said it was “painfully aware” of the effect of its decision on the wounded, sick and disabled.
The ICRC has worked in Pakistan since 1947, providing health care and other help for victims of violence and natural disasters.
“We are currently analysing the situation and the environment with a view to setting out a clear and sustainable way forward,” said Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Pakistan.
“In the coming weeks, the ICRC will announce a decision on its future presence and set-up in Pakistan.”
Dale, a British Muslim who had been managing a health programme in Quetta for almost a year, was abducted in the city on January 5 by eight masked gunmen, who forced him from his car at gunpoint as he came home from work.
A source close to the case said his captors had demanded a ransom of $30 million. A note claiming to be from militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was found with his body on April 29, a local police official told AFP.