Chhattisgarh govt asks ICRC to roll back its operations in the state

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icrcThe Chhattisgarh government has directed the world renowned humanitarian organization – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – to suspend all its operations in the Naxalite affected Bijapur district. The district collector of Bijapur, Mohammad Abdul Qaiser Haq has issued these orders to the organisation. Since 2010, the ICRC has been running a clinic at Kutru in the Bhairamgarh tehsil of Bijapur district for the tribals, besides running mobile health clinics in different villages and providing clean drinking water in the remote areas. The organisation has stopped all its activities after getting the collector’s order.

According to sources no MoU was signed between the ICRC and the state government for working in the region. Besides this, the organisation was also required to complete some formalities with the central government before starting its work in the naxal areas. Before issuing the order for ICRC to stop all its activities, the Bijapur administration had issued a show cause notice to the organisation.

Tribal Bastar is one of the most backward regions of the country with very poor healthcare facilities and the arrival of ICRC was welcomed. Even the state government had expected that the tribals affected by the naxal violence would benefit greatly by ICRCs experience and expertise.

This is not the first time that an international organisation working in the area has been targeted by the state government. In 2008 the Nobel Peace Prize winning French organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, was also targeted. The district administration had accused the organization of providing healthcare facilities to the Maoists. After the controversy grew the government had to face embarrassment. After this the MSF was allowed to continue their work. The MSF is working in the areas of the Sukma district bordering Andhra Pradesh.

Sources say that the Judum supporters and the security forces were not pleased with ICRC for providing healthcare facilities to the tribals in the remote villages. In the meantime ICRC is working on the formalities because of which its work has been stopped.

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