US NGO Save the Children has been ordered to leave Pakistan, with an official accusing the charity of “anti-Pakistan” activities.
Police have sealed off the charity’s offices in Islamabad and foreign staff given 15 days to leave the country.
Save the Children said it “strongly objected” to the action.
Pakistan has previously linked Save the Children to the fake vaccination program used by the CIA to track down Osama bin Laden.
Save the Children has always denied being involved with the CIA or Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who carried out the program.
The NGO has no foreign staff in Pakistan as they were forced to leave after the accusations emerged in 2012.
Save the Children now has 1,200 Pakistani staff working on projects in health, education and food, the charity said.
The charity, which has operations all over the world, has worked in Pakistan for more than 30 years.
The Pakistani government has not given a formal announcement explaining the decision.
However, one official told the AFP news agency: “Their activities were being monitored since a long time. They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest.”
A police official said that Save the Children’s phone calls and offices had been placed under surveillance. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, he added that the charity’s activities were “very suspicious”.
Condemning the move, Save the Children said it was “raising our serious concerns at the highest levels”, adding that its workers were all Pakistani nationals.
A Save the Children official told Reuters that the Pakistan government had been stopping aid shipments entering the country, “blocking aid to millions of children and their families”.
It comes after the Pakistani government announced it was tightening the rules for NGOs, revoking several of their licenses.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Refugee Council has ceased all operations in Pakistan as its license has not yet been renewed.
According to Save the Children aid group, dozens of migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat carrying an estimated 137 people sank south of Sicily.
The NGO says survivors reported up to 40 people fell into the sea as a rescue vessel was approaching.
The survivors arrived in the city of Catania on May 5th.
At least 1,750 people have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.
Save the Children’s representative in Catania Giovanna di Benedetto said the latest sinking is thought to have happened on May 3rd, but the exact toll was not known.
“They [survivors] said there were 137 people aboard an inflatable boat that deflated or exploded – it wasn’t clear – and that some of them fell overboard,” Giovanna di Benedetto told AFP news agency.
“Some said <<very many>> died, others said <<around 40>>,” she added.
The survivors were picked up by a Maltese merchant ship and five bodies were also recovered.
Dramatic footage of the rescue, obtained by The Associated Press, shows migrants desperately jumping off a deflating dinghy, and trying to climb up ropes and a rope ladder to the merchant ship.
About 100 people were found on a second boat, with no deaths reported, the aid agency added.
The number of migrants attempting to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean has risen in recent weeks as smugglers take advantage of fair weather.
In the past three days about 7,000 people have been rescued and 10 bodies recovered off the Libyan coast, according to the Italian coastguard.
Italian and French ships picked up survivors from wooden and rubber boats on at least 17 separate operations.
Meanwhile Turkey’s coastguard on May 5th said it had rescued more than 600 people trying to cross the Aegean Sea in the past week, Reuters reports.
More than 400 were men, women and children fleeing Syria, while the rest came from Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma) and various African countries, the office of the Izmir provincial governor is quoted as saying.
The latest deaths come as naval chiefs from 26 European countries are due to discuss the migrant crisis at talks in Naples, southern Italy.
EU nations agreed last month to triple funding for rescue operations run by European border agency Frontex, contribute more boats and patrol aircraft for rescue efforts, and look at ways to target smugglers’ boats with military strikes.
Leading charity Save the Children has warned that a rate of five new Ebola cases an hour in Sierra Leone means healthcare demands are far outstripping supply.
Save the Children said there were 765 new cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone last week, while there are only 327 beds in the country.
Experts and politicians are set to meet in London to debate a global response to the Ebola outbreak crisis.
It is the world’s worst outbreak of the virus, killing 3,338 people so far.
There have been 7,178 confirmed cases, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea suffering the most.
Save the Children says Ebola is spreading across Sierra Leone at a “terrifying rate”, with the number of new cases being recorded doubling every few weeks.
It said that even as health authorities got on top of the outbreak in one area, it spread to another.
Ebola is spreading across Sierra Leone at a terrifying rate, with the number of new cases being recorded doubling every few weeks
The scale of the disease is also “massively unreported” according to the charity, because “untold numbers of children are dying anonymously at home or in the streets”.
Earlier this month, Britain said it would build facilities for 700 new beds in Sierra Leone but the first of these will not be ready for weeks, and the rest may take months.
Save the Children said that unless the international community radically stepped up its response, people would continue to die at home and risk infecting their family and the local community.
“We are facing the frightening prospect of an epidemic which is spreading like wildfire across Sierra Leone, with the number of new cases doubling every three weeks,” said Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children’s country director in Sierra Leone.
Safety trials for two experimental vaccines are under way in the UK and US, the WHO said on Wednesday, and will be expanded to 10 sites in Africa, Europe and North America in the coming weeks.
It said it expected to begin small-scale use of the experimental vaccines in West Africa early next year.
The Ebola Donors Conference in London on October 2 is being hosted by the UK and Sierra Leone governments. Its main agenda is to discuss what the global community can do to provide an effective international response to the epidemic.
It will be chaired by UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who said he hoped it would “raise even greater awareness of the disease and what is needed to contain it, encourage ambitious pledges and show our solidarity with Sierra Leone and the region.”
Save the Children’s foreign staff have been ordered to leave Pakistan within two weeks, the aid agency confirms.
Save the Children charity says it has been given no reason for the order, but correspondents say the move is thought be fall-out from the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.
Following the raid, a Pakistani doctor was arrested for working for the CIA.
Pakistani intelligence officials accuse Save the Children of involvement – the group denies the claims. Six of its staff in Pakistan are foreigners.
Save the Children's foreign staff have been ordered to leave Pakistan within two weeks
The charity has worked in Pakistan for more than 30 years. Correspondents say that it is not thought that the forthcoming expulsions will have any significant impact on its operations in the country in the short term.
Dr. Shakil Afridi was arrested after it emerged he had been running a fake vaccination programme on behalf of the CIA as part of efforts to track Bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces in May last year.
The doctor was jailed for 33 years in May in a controversial hearing held behind closed doors under Pakistan’s tribal justice system.
It was originally thought that he had been imprisoned for running the fake vaccination programme – but court papers later showed that he was sentenced for alleged links to a banned militant group.
His family have called the treason allegations “rubbish” and his lawyers said they would appeal.
Over the last 18 months foreign staff of other aid agencies in Pakistan have reported increased restrictions on the way they work.
Despite that, huge numbers of Pakistanis have been reliant on their help, particularly following displacement because of conflict in the north-west and after natural disasters, like the floods of the past two years.
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