By Rick Perera, CARE International in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD - It's become depressingly familiar: a tragic attack on civilians. Tuesday's hotel bombing in Peshawar is just the latest in a string of events marring this beautiful country.
At least five UN workers were killed in the blast, along with diplomats, businessmen, and government officials. The attack has rattled the UN, prompting it to suspend, for now, relief operations in the embattled North West Frontier Province.
The humanitarian community is in shock, and grieving over the deaths of our colleagues. But let us not forget the unseen victims -- the kind of people who don't stay in luxury hotels. They are the country's poorest, most vulnerable citizens. People like Dunya Jehan, sheltering in a crowded school since her husband disappeared while looking for food for their five children. Or 11-year-old Husna and her nine-year-old sister Robina, sharing a bed in a crowded hospital ward after being diagnosed with cholera.
Anything that disrupts the flow of aid to these families kills hope. What quarrel could anyone possibly have with homesick, fatherless children and their bereaved mothers? Who would want to condemn little girls to sleep on the hard ground, without a tent to shelter from the rain, or even a net to protect them from disease-carrying mosquitoes?
Let us channel our grief into renewed determination to bring help to the millions who need it. Let us turn our outrage into tents, water tankers, health clinics and schools. Let us send the message to the innocent, suffering people of northwestern Pakistan that they are not alone in the world.
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