Friday, 10 September 2010
Pakistani Christians unwelcome!
Here is an article read on the Barnabus Fund website please share your views:
Concerns grow over discrimination against Christian flood victims in Pakistan
These Christians from Sajawal are staying with relatives after their homes were flooded
Concerns about discrimination against Christians and other minority groups affected by the floods in Pakistan are growing – after Barnabas Fund raised the alarm at the beginning of the crisis.
Nazir S. Bhatti, chairman of the Pakistan Christian Congress, said anti-Christian hatred was preventing aid from reaching many areas and called on the government for funds to be allocated to specific religious minorities.
National Pakistan newspaper Dawn made the issue the subject of an editorial last week following a protest rally in Hyderabad against the maltreatment of minority community flood victims. It said there had been numerous reports of people being refused shelter and discriminated against in the distribution of aid because of their ethnicity, caste or religion. The paper added:
“Discrimination on ethnic and religious grounds is deeply entrenched in Pakistan and will not change overnight. Yet that it is being used as an excuse to strip people of their rights as equal citizens even during a time of calamity is abhorrent.”
The Vatican’s news agency, Fides, said Christians and Hindus faced “systematic discrimination” in the distribution of aid, which was “being managed either by government officials sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalism or by Muslim relief organisations.” Fides has been gathering accounts from Christians who have been denied shelter, healthcare and aid because of their faith. A local volunteer said: “The Christian refugees are often ignored. They are purposely not identified and registered. Thus, they are automatically excluded from any health care or food, as they supposedly do not exist.”
Islamic extremists have been quick to step in with flood relief, capitalising on the crisis to win hearts and minds. It has been reported that international aid, including containers of cooking oil donated by Australia, was being distributed at a camp in Sukkur funded by a banned Pakistani militant group. The UN World Food Programme and international aid organisations were giving out supplies at the base, which Jamaat-ud-Dawa – a group blacklisted by Pakistan and the UN as a terrorist front – is said to be supporting.
Barnabas Fund warned at the beginning of the crisis that Christian flood victims would be neglected in the distribution of aid (6 August), and has since received reports of discrimination in relief efforts. A group of Christian families who took refuge from rapidly rising flood waters on the top floor of the hospital in Nowshera were left to await rescue shivering and crying while Army helicopters prioritised the evacuation of Muslim families from nearby buildings.
Barnabas Fund targets its support to Christians through Christian partners on the ground to ensure this marginalised community receives the help it needs.
Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
“It is scandalous and inhumane that Christians and other minority groups in Pakistan are being refused shelter and life-saving provisions during a crisis of this magnitude. We call on the Pakistani government to ensure that all its citizens are treated equally and fairly at this time of crisis and afterwards.”
That those who are giving out aid will respond positively to the concerns being raised by minority groups so that every flood victim receives the help they need.
That the international community will put pressure on the Pakistani government to ensure the fair distribution of resources.