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Refugees International would like to applaud the Obama administration for refusing to allow U.S. money to go into training or equipping Pakistani army units that have committed gross human rights violations, during military operations against Al Qaeda and other militant groups. For the first time since 2001, when the United States began to pour billions of U.S. tax payer dollars into Pakistan to fight extremists, a law that requires the U.S. to cut off aid to foreign military units believed to have engaged in actions such as extra-judicial killings, is being applied to Pakistan. Senator Leahy, who authored the law – known as the Leahy Law- has played a critical role in ensuring its implementation in Pakistan.
“The Obama administration is upholding human rights standards by giving a clear signal that it won’t remain silent about human rights abuses, even amongst its military and strategic allies,” said the President of Refugees International, Michel Gabaudan. “We need to ensure that no more Pakistani civilians suffer. Egregious abuses have been documented as widespread amongst the Pakistani military, and abusive behavior extends into camps where people displaced by the conflict have fled.”
Pakistan has had a history of conflict, and currently over 20 million people have been affected by unprecedented flooding. The United Nations has called for over $2 billion in relief funds to go to Pakistan, and the military is still the main agency deciding on how relief efforts are carried out.
“The Pakistani military leads the humanitarian response in Pakistan, which means that they are in close proximity to Pakistan’s most vulnerable,” Gabaudan said. “ The US must use its influence with Pakistan to ensure that civilian authorities are leading the aid effort. We cannot expect the military to respect the first principle of humanitarian action to do no harm.”
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. The organization issued a report in April 2010, calling for the military in Pakistan to be separated from humanitarian aid efforts, and for the Leahy Law to be implemented. http://www.refugeesinternational.org/policy/field-report/pakistan-short-sighted-policies-hindering-us-goals-0
For Immediate Release: October 22, 2010
Contact: Refugees International, Gabrielle Menezes
Mobile: +1 347 260 1393 // Office: 202-828-0110 x225