ASIA/PAKISTAN – Aid to evicted and displaced citizens due to public construction works in Karachi

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Karachi – “Over 12,000 families have lost their homes, 96,000 people are homeless and more than 30,000 children have left schools, due to the demolitions carried out by the authorities along the Gujjar and Orangi canals, the main drainage channels of the city. We are sorry and worried for all the families who have lost their homes in this difficult period of pandemic. The government should take care of the resettlement of these people”: says Mansha Noor, executive Secretary of Caritas in the archdiocese of Karachi, to Fides, announcing a support plan for displaced families. The city government demolished the houses to widen the Gujjar and Orangi canals, used up to now to drain rainwater, transforming them into larger and more functional sewage structures, and also building a road. “If the government has a development plan, it must provide the citizens involved with an alternative place where to live”, notes Noor.
Thanks to aid from Caritas Italy, Caritas Japan, Caritas Pakistan and Missio Austria in the first phase of the project, 722 Christian families and 100 Muslim families were reached, with various types of humanitarian aid, also offering a contribution for the rent of new homes.
The civil government plan calls for the demolition of 1,200 houses and also of mosques and Christian chapels along the affected areas, on the sides of the canals. Christians denounce that the plan does not provide for compensation or relocation of affected families, “who have lived there for decades and are now desperate because the Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared their tenancy or property documents false, and they found themselves to be illegal occupants”, Noor explains. This is why the local Church of Karachi has taken care of these families, helping them and rebuilding their homes in another area, and supporting the education of the children.
The provincial government planned public works in February 2021 following heavy rains in Karachi in the summer 2020, to improve wastewater discharges and avoid flooding. Since the demolition of numerous houses was foreseen in this work, the residents filed lawsuits but, after a first ruling by the High Court of Sindh, the Supreme Court confirmed the necessity and lawfulness of public works and demolitions.