KSRelief gives away 1,000 ‘winter bags’ to frost-ridden Azad Kashmir

The King Salman Relief Center distributes 1,000 winter bags in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khawa district of Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: KSRelief)
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Updated 26 January 2020

KSRelief gives away 1,000 ‘winter bags’ to frost-ridden Azad Kashmir

  • Saudi organization launched $1.5 million winter relief project for Pakistan this month
  • Winter kits include warm blankets and clothing for men and women

ISLAMABAD: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) on Friday distributed 1,000 winter packages directly benefiting 5,000 residents in Azad Kashmir’s Neelum Valley-- a region that has battled a bitter winter this year-- the Saudi Press Agency said on Saturday. 
Earlier this month, KSRelief launched a $1.5 million winter relief project to distribute 30,000 winter bags containing 180 tons of goods in 21 districts across Pakistan. The initiative is expected to benefit 150,000 people.
According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), at least 105 people were killed and 96 injured in the wake of recent weather-related incidents in the country. The majority of casualties were reported from Azad Kashmir where heavy rains and snowfall triggered avalanches, especially in the Neelum Valley area.
“KSRelief is going to distribute 7,500 winter kits, including 15,000 blankets, shawls for men and women, socks, gloves and caps in Azad Kashmir. Most of these items will find their way to the most affected districts of Neelum Valley,” KSRelief told Arab News last week.
With one of the largest humanitarian aid budgets in the world, KSRelief has been working in 46 countries. Pakistan is the fifth-largest recipient of its assistance and has received more than $117.6 million in aid since 2005.


Daily wagers say government’s virus relief package won’t cover minimum needs

Updated 30 March 2020

Daily wagers say government’s virus relief package won’t cover minimum needs

  • Assistance to reach 3 million workers — less than a half of the affected, according workers’ association
  • The support package is part of the government’s Rs1.2 trillion scheme to minimize the impacts of the pandemic

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Monday approved Rs17,500 ($106) monthly cash assistance for around 3 million daily wage workers who lost their jobs amid cutbacks and shutdowns over the coronavirus crisis. The amount may be insufficient for them to survive.

“Something is better than nothing in this critical time, but this amount (17,500 rupees) isn’t enough even for a small family of five members to get by, ” Zahoor Awan, secretary general of the Pakistan Workers’ Federation (PWF), told Arab News.

“A small family needs at least 50,000 rupees per month to fulfill all its expenses including house rent, food and utilities,” he said.

The Rs200 billion financial support package is part of the government’s Rs1.2 trillion fiscal stimulus scheme to minimize the adverse impacts of the disease outbreak on the country’s fragile economy.

“It was estimated that around 3 million workers will fall in this category and they will have to be paid a minimum wage of Rs17,500 ($106) per month,” the government’s Economic Coordination Committee said in a statement on Monday.
The government will disburse the money to workers through provincial labor departments.

“This is a substantial and major commitment from the government at this difficult time,” Khurram Husain, business analyst and editor at Dawn daily, told Arab News, adding that the labor departments will have to generate “authentic data” on the workers for the funds to be fairly distributed.

However, the very data on which ECC based its relief may be unreflective of the reality. 

While the ECC estimates that 3 million daily wage workers have been affected by the shutdown of commercial activity across the country, according to PWF’s Awan the number is at least 7 million.

He said the government’s package covers only the formal industrial sector. “What about those thousands working in small hotels, shops, self-employed, and others who aren’t registered with labor departments?” he said, adding that it is necessary for the government to broaden its definition of daily wage earners.

Ghulam Mustafa, a daily wager at a textile mill in Chakwal, said that prior to the business shutdown his monthly income was Rs26,000.

“It’s impossible to meet all the expenses with Rs17,500,” he told Arab News. “The government should waive off our utility bills along with this allowance.”