Pakistan: UN condemns killing of humanitarian worker

A woman swaddles her crying newborn in a camp in southern Pakistan. Photo: UNICEF

22 July 2012 – The United Nations condemned the killing of a local community worker in Pakistan on Friday who was part of a polio eradication initiative.

Muhammad Ishaq was shot and killed in the Gadap town area of Karachi on Friday evening. Mr. Ishaq had worked with the national polio eradication effort as a Union Council Polio Worker for several months, helping to plan and implement vaccination campaigns to protect vulnerable children against the disease.

In a joint statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said they were deeply saddened by the killing, stressing Mr. Ishaq was known for his dedication and diligence to immunize all children against polio.

“WHO, UNICEF and all of the polio partners in Pakistan and globally express their deepest sympathy to his family for this tragic loss,” the statement said. “The partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative remain committed to supporting the Government of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan in their efforts to eradicate this devastating disease.”

Polio immunization activities were suspended in this area of Karachi earlier this week after a shooting incident injured two WHO staff members who were supporting the implementation and monitoring of a vaccination campaign.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that can cause permanent paralysis in a matter of hours. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Currently the disease remains endemic in only three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.


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