Pakistan - future of Shashu project uncertain

The MSF project in the town of Shashu, Northwestern Frontier province in Pakistan, faces an uncertain future.

MSF works in the pediatric department of the hospital there and sees monthly around 150 children in the in-patient department (IPD) and over 2,000 in the out-patient department (OPD).

The pressure on Pakistani president Musharraf to enhance security in the areas along the porous border with Afghanistan has increased enormously. This is caused by international pressure to stop cross border infiltrations into Afghanistan.

Therefore the Pakistani Government wants to relocate or repatriate around 100,000 Afghan refugees from camps in the region. As around 60% of the patients in the Shashu hospital are Afghan refugees, the Pakistani medical agency PIMA, responsible for the other departments in the hospital, wants to dismantle the facility as it can no longer validate funding its programme in Shashu.

MSF continues to continue to run the OPD and is looking into options to continue providing medical care to children, be it in Shashu hospital or another hospitals in the vicinity, as MSF wants to continue to assist the Pakistanis living in this area.

Also, it can be expected that a considerable amount of refugees will gradually return as the people on both sides of the border are very interrelated, and some refugees have been in Pakistan since the 1980s.