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NGOs asked to work without female staff

MANSEHRA, March 26: The district administration of Battagram has asked the non-governmental organisations to work in the region without their female staff.

Reliable sources told Dawn on Wednesday that a meeting of the district administration and representatives of non-governmental organisations was held which discussed the law and order situation in the region and threats to NGOs.

“In the present situation it will be better for NGOs to work without their female staff as religious scholars of the area had demanded it,” DPO Mohammad Hafiz told the meeting, sources said.

It may pertinent to mention here that after the Lal Masjid operation last year, protesters set on fire and ransacked offices of some NGOs in Battagram and Allai. Following the incidents of violence a jirga was held in Allai which demanded ban on the female staff. The jirga, having representation of all tribes of the area, asked such organisations to expel their female staff from the district.

The NGOs complied with the instructions of jirga for some time. But after a lapse of few months they again engaged female staff in their activities. The female staff was working secretly in the offices of their respective NGOs and some time even in the field, which sparked again the extinguished glows and they received threatening letters.

Sources said that Church World Service, an international NGO working in Mansehra for the last three decades, had suspended its activities in the earthquake affected areas and shifted its office to Abbottabad after receiving threats.

When contacted Ayyaz Gul Kiani, recovery coordinator of Church World Service, said that the offices for Afghan Refugees would continue to work in Mansehra but offices related to earthquake would be shifted to Abbottabad.

“We face threats here,” he added.

He said that Church World Service had accomplished its rescue, relief and recovery phases and now entered in the developmental phases, which could be carried out from anywhere.

Keeping in view the fresh threats, the district administration asked all NGOs to carry on their activities in the region without engaging female staff.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/27/2008

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