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Pakistan: Christians and ‘untouchables’ are denied flood aid
ICC Note
Pakistani Christian victims of flooding are denied food aid because of their faith. Christians and other religious minorities face persecution at the hands of Muslim radicals in Pakistan.
09/16/2011 Pakistan (Enerpub)-Among the flood victims of Sindh (South of Pakistan), Christian and Hindu “Dalits” families, considered the “untouchables”, are thrown out of refugee camps set up by the government and do not receive humanitarian aid. This is the complaint which comes from the Catholic diocese of Hyderabad, confirmed by non-governmental organizations. Torrential rains hit the region of Sindh, and will continue over the next few days, causing widespread flooding. Out of the 23 districts of the province, 22 are strongly affected and the flood victims are over 5 million. Some villages are now found beneath as much as 6 metres of flood water.
Aid has started to move, with the Pakistani civil protection, as well as NGOs that are at the forefront. Fr. Samson Shukardin, OFM, General Vicar of the Diocese of Hyderabad in Sindh, and diocesan Director of the Commission “Justice and Peace”, tells Fides: “We have an emergency, the entire diocese has been hit. We have 16 parishes, all 16 parish priests have asked for help. The displaced people are mostly Hindus, but there are also thousands of Muslim and Christian families. Caritas and NGOs are distributing food aid, medicines, tents. I visited some affected areas: the population has been put to the test and is discouraged. ” This is why Mgr.Max John Rodrigues, Catholic bishop of Hyderabad, has issued a message “encouraging and exhorting the faithful to trust in the help of God and the neighbor’s help”.
The local church also reports cases of discrimination in the distribution of humanitarian aid, a terrible thing that was already registered unfortunately during the floods in 2010. Fr. Shukardin explains: “This happens for religious and caste reasons. The victims are mostly tribal, living in 8 out of 16 parishes. In the district of Badin, on the border with India, inhabited by Parkari tribes, a pastor told me that in the two refugee camps set up by the Government, Christians have been rejected because, what is said is, ‘Western missionaries think about you’. In addition to religious discrimination, these people are considered ‘Dalits’, ‘untouchable’ (for legacy of the Indian system, before the partition, ndr), therefore thrown out”.

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