UN bodies urge Pakistan to prevent women, minorities ‘victimization’

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Situation of minorities in Pakistan

GENEVA — Three UN human rights bodies on Wednesday called on Pakistan to ensure that women, minorities and the disabled were spared “further victimisation” during the recovery from devastating floods.

“The floods have disproportionately affected them,” they said in a joint statement.

“Members of minority communities, Afghan refugees, women, children and persons with disabilities, particularly those living in rural areas, were already among the most vulnerable in Pakistani society.”

The statement called on Pakistanis authorities “to strengthen the human rights-based approach of their efforts, in order to prevent further victimization of the most vulnerable population.”

In the flood hit north-western Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, scene of fighting between Islamist militants and government forces, women and especially girls have been denied access to basic health and education, according to the UN.

The Committee on children’s rights, the Committee on the elimination of discrimination against Women, and the Committee on the rights of the disabled underlined that 85 percent of those displaced by the floods are women and children, including half a million pregnant women.

They suffer with the destruction of health centres and need protection from sexual and physical abuse, while women and girls need help to overcome “any constraints” they face in reaching aid and basic services “including cultural barriers,” the UN rights bodies said.

Meanwhile, the disabled “are often a part of society that is kept invisible, even under normal circumstances and more so in times of emergency,” they added, and need urgent relocation from flood hit areas.

At least seven million people are still without shelter in Pakistan nearly three months after catastrophic monsoon floods devastated huge swathes of the country, according to the United Nations.(AFP)