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Agencies
September 20, 2019

Pakistan urges UN to establish humanitarian corridor in IOK

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Agencies
September 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen M Mazari on Thursday wrote a letter to Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, asking for establishment of an immediate humanitarian corridor to supply humanitarian aid and relief to Kashmiris under siege in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by Indian occupation forces.In the letter, Dr Mazari drew the attention of the Mark Lowcock to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in IOK, as the siege imposed by the Indian state continues into its second month, resulting in a grave crisis.

“The crippling curfew and communications blackout have left the Kashmiri population cut off from food, medicine and other basic necessities. The situation presents a serious threat to the lives of the Kashmiri people, particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and children,” she wrote.

She mentioned that the 8 July 2019 report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) raised concerns over “excessive use of force by Indian security forces”.

However, she wrote, since the time that report was released till date, there has been an escalation in the conflict in IOK. “During a recent attack on a mosque in Anchar (around Srinagar) by Indian occupation forces, 24-year-old Aqib was hit by numerous pellets in his face, eyes, mouth and arms. The incident left countless others wounded and unable to call an ambulance or access any emergency medical assistance due to the complete lockdown in the region. This is just one of several examples that point to the gross human rights atrocities being committed in IOK, as well as the increasing shortages of medical supplies and food,” she wrote.

“I request your office to facilitate the establishment of a corridor for humanitarian aid and relief in the region. Under Rule 55 of the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) rules of customary international humanitarian law, ‘the parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need’” she wrote.

She said that without the provision of “rapid and unimpeded” humanitarian relief to the civilian population in IOK, the senseless loss of lives will unfortunately continue. Shireen Mazari said India must allow humanitarian organisations access to IOK, as well as the mobility to carry out their work.

“It is in light of the continuing siege and communications blackout in IOK, and the humanitarian crisis ongoing at present, that I must emphasise the pressing need to establish a humanitarian corridor, solely for the purposes of delivering humanitarian aid and relief in IOK,” she wrote.

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