World Vision among aid groups ousted from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (BP) -- Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country known for persecuting religious minorities, has expelled 18 aid organizations including World Vision and other Christian groups.

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The expulsions will affect more than 11 million aid recipients in the country that suffers in healthcare and education, entailing an estimated loss of more than $130 million in annual aid, the Associated Press reported.

World Vision worked to secure help for those it serves before it pulled out of Pakistan, the group told AP in advance of the departure.

World Vision "worked with relevant Pakistan government institutions to hand over responsibility for life-saving and poverty-reducing programs," AP quoted World Vision communications executive Cynthia Colin as saying. "We will do what we can to minimize the impact [on children] and will continue to discuss the possibility of restarting work under any new legal framework which the government may subsequently introduce."

Catholic Relief and the Irish Catholic aid group Trocaire are among the 18 groups expelled, including nonreligious NGOs addressing various humanitarian and social justice issues. Another 20 are at risk of expulsion, AP said, and nine others were ousted in late 2017.

The stated economic impact is based on the work of 15 groups represented by the umbrella Pakistan Humanitarian Foundation, spokesman Umair Hasan told AP.

The various groups were informed individually of Pakistan's decision, followed by a tweet from Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari accusing the groups of "noncompliance" and spreading "disinfo" [sic].

"They must leave," she tweeted Dec. 5. "They need to work within their stated intent which these 18 didn't do!"

Mazari claimed the groups' work was not expansive.

"It's like a visa -- some get it some don't!" she tweeted the following day. "Over 80 INGOs (international non-governmental organizations) re-registered! Btw some denied registration had no projects on the ground beyond seminars, discussions & free trips abroad.... Only seminar lot may miss them!"

Many NGOs were not given specific reasons for their ousters, according to news reports. A total of 27 NGOs were expelled in December 2017, but World Vision was among 18 who appealed the decisions, AP said. Pakistan changed NGO registration procedures in 2015.

In 2010, militants killed six World Vision workers at an office in northwestern Pakistan that had opened years earlier to help victims of a deadly 2005 earthquake. World Vision temporarily suspended operations after the killings.

A full list of the ousted groups was not available to Baptist Press.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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