International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation head, Reto Stocker Tuesday said Pakistan has faced serious natural disasters, catastrophes and faced conflict, resulting into large scale loss of human

life, disability and destruction.

Talking to APP, ICRC delegation head, Reto Stocker said the country after the earthquake of 2005 faced a devastating situation while ICRC reached the remotest places of northern areas with rapid logistic support and expertise.

He said the Red Cross had up to nine helicopters and other means to reach any disaster hit region.

Reto said Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Center (MPRC) is one of the best ICRC contributions to help the people of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) who suffered amputations, spinal cord injuries and other

disabilities during the earthquake disaster.

He said that besides people from AJK, people are reaching MPRC from Punjab and other regions to get free artificial limbs and other physical rehabilitation support. He said it was the quality and credible services that make people from far-flung areas make the difficult decision to travel hundreds of kilometres to get optimal medical care.

Physical rehabilitation centers like MPRC, he said, should be established at divisional level to provide swift and easy access to the patients with limb amputations or other physical deformities.

To a question, he said ICRC supported twenty-two physical rehabilitation centers in collaboration with their partner organizationsincluding Indus Hospital, Chal Foundation, Pakistan Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotics Sciences (PIPOS) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The ICRC also works very closely with Pakistan Red Crescent Society in many areas. He admired the philanthropic and humanitarian passion of the people of Pakistan who facilitate the ailing masses

with all resources.

He told that under its project “Healthcare in Danger”, the ICRC and its partners run public awareness campaigns in 2016 & 2017 on the respect of ambulances and their right of way. In 2016, the campaign

was conducted only in Karachi and resulted in 16% improvement in the behaviour of motorists in Karachi towards ambulances. This was learnt through an observational study conducted pre and post campaign. The campaign in 2017 with the slogan ‘Give way to ambulance – Give way to life’ was conducted nationwide and results on the impact of 2017 campaign would be shared soon, he added.

He emphasised that there is a need to continue this behaviour change campaign on respect of ambulances and ICRC invites public and private organisations to invest on this important theme. Replying to a question, he said the ICRC sponsored Conflict Law Centre has published policy briefs and conducted debates on complex legal issues related to international humanitarian law where young lawyers and legal experts have been given a platform to bring out unique and innovative ideas to resolve pressing issues.

For years now, he said, the ICRC has been engaging with the universities of Pakistan for promoting teaching and research pertaining to humanitarian laws.

Reto Stocker showed concern over the escalating climatic changes in the region that would cause serious water shortage issues. He said special initiatives should be taken to protect the environment and water resources to avoid major crisis.