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Christians denied coronavirus food aid in Pakistan

by Heather Preston

It's been reported that Christians in Pakistan have been denied access to emergency food relief distributed in response to the coronavirus crisis.

NGO's providing supplies to the poor in the capital of the Sindh province, Karachi have been refusing food vouchers to members of religious minority groups in favour of Muslims, according to local Christians.

Following government imposed travel restrictions, many day labourers have lost their jobs in the country and have had to rely on the support of local charities and organisations for support.

Catholic legal agency the National Commission for Justice and Peace supports Christians who face religious injustice in the country.

Director, Father Emmanuel Yousaf claims that Christians and other minorities there have been just as impacted by the coronavirus lockdown as the Muslim majority population. 

"Everybody is affected by the virus, irrespective of religious differences," he told Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Fr Emmanuel Yousef
Fr Emmanuel Yousef

"Reports of NGOs discriminating on religious grounds are very sad to hear. It shows a very narrow mind set at work.

"Everybody affected should be helped - everybody," Yousaf added.

Father Yousaf explained that discrimination in the provision of food aid was a recurring problem in Pakistan. 

Members of the Saylani Welfare International Trust, which helps homeless people and the self-employed in Karachi's Korongi district has reportedly refused food rations to non-Muslims, saying they are not entitled to the benefit under Islamic law. 

According to latest reports, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is nearly 2,300 in Pakistan, with over 30 deaths.

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