PAKISTAN: Aid distributed to Christians in Jaranwala

Jaranwala family receive aidChristians living in Jaranwala have received emergency aid in the wake of the mob attack on the Christian community there in mid-August.

A team from Church in Chains partner organisation the Edge Foundation recently completed its second round of support to families in Jaranwala. In the first round, team members distributed clean water and milk packs. In the second round, they provided rations (large bags of flour, rice, packs of lentils, sugar, milk, tea bags etc.) meant to last families two to three weeks, depending on family size. Some families also received cash to purchase urgent necessities and medications.

Edge/Jaranwala aid familyThe team reported that renovation of the main church buildings damaged or destroyed in the attack is underway. This action had been promised by the Punjab state government immediately following the attack. Most churches in Jaranwala are small or home-based and these small congregations have been informed that once the major church renovations are done, the government will reach out about renovating their churches. For now, they are holding services in tents, with many feeling disheartened due to the uncertain timeframe. The Edge team has committed to visiting them soon for updates and to offer any possible support.

Government support

Jaranwala family receive cash aidSome 89 Christian homes were completely destroyed and more than four hundred homes damaged in the mob attack and the Punjab state government pledged support to all who had suffered loss. Some Christian families have received government cheques for home repairs, but few have begun renovations. Many multi-generational families are struggling with the decision of whether to use the money to partially renovate their homes or replace household items lost in the attacks. Additionally, many students lost educational materials and important documents in the fires.

Some families have been given cheques but can’t cash them due to errors, while others have been told to wait for government’s further instruction. Other families still have not received their cheques and are unsure if they will ever get them.

Much of the aid is being directed to Jaranwala’s main town while smaller areas like Asad Town, Essa Nagi, and Sat Sangat are still awaiting assistance.

Need for continued support

Edge Van (Jaranwala)

The aid team reported that there is a continued need for support. The Edge Foundation aims to maintain contact with families in the area for at least the next three months. It will also be bringing support to families of Christians accused of blasphemy in recent weeks in the local area who have not received any support and are unlikely to receive government support.

Another factor leading to hardship is that many Christian men in Jaranwala lost their road-sweeping or sewage-cleaning jobs following the attack. It appears that they were unfairly dismissed because the mob attack followed a false accusation of blasphemy and their employers did not want employees who were associated with a blasphemy charge. Similarly some Christian women, who were employed in house cleaning for wealthy Muslims, were also dismissed.

(CLAAS, The Edge Foundation, British Asian Christian Association)

Church in Chains has made a further grant of €4,500 to CLAAS/Edge Foundation to help meet the continuing needs of Christians in Jaranwala (in addition to an initial grant of €3,000 sent in the immediate aftermath of the attack)