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HRCP condemns killing of polio workers

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned the killing of six polio vaccinators in Karachi and Peshawar and demanded the arrest of the perpetrators, effective steps to prevent such attacks in future and compensation for the families of the vaccinators killed.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the commission said: “HRCP condemns in the strongest possible words the cold-blooded murder of six polio workers in four attacks in Karachi and Peshawar. The attacks are the height of brutality and a bid to rob Pakistan’s children of a healthy future. As even a single affected child in a community could undermine efforts to defeat polio, these attacks deal a devastating blow to the efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the debilitating disease still threatens young lives. It defies belief that all these killings in a single day are a coincidence. The three attacks in Karachi in less than an hour in particular seem to be coordinated. Polio vaccinators had been attacked and killed earlier in the year too. On Wednesday also, polio workers were attacked in Peshawar. Threats to polio vaccination staff across the country had not been a secret, unlike steps, if any, that the government had taken to counter those threats.

Efforts to prevent future attacks must begin with bringing the perpetrators of these killings to justice and intelligence gathering to preempt extremist elements’ designs. The need to continue immunisation and to keep polio teams safe and motivated is critical in the aftermath of the attack. Although the main responsibility for that lies with the government, community leaders also have a significant role to play.

HRCP calls upon all political parties, media, civil society and community leaders to unequivocally denounce the barbaric targeting of those who work to save children from disability and death. They should also play their role in persuading the parents to get their children vaccinated against the deadly disease.

HRCP also urges the government to pay adequate financial compensation to the families of all vaccinators that have been slain in order to make it somewhat manageable for them to tide over this very difficult time.”

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