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Report links quake charities with extremists

A probe says that some of the UN aid for last year's devastating earthquake was channelled to charities associated with extremists.

india Updated: Oct 04, 2006 13:40 IST

An investigation conducted by the BBC has found that some of the money collected by the UN after last year's devastating earthquake was channelled to charities associated with extremist (jihadi) groups in Pakistan.

Around one lakh people had died in October 8 earthquake last year, with the epicentre being in PoK capital Muzafarrabad.

It was also found that one of the charities linked with extremists was now using its position to gain access to and 'recruit' orphaned or fatherless children in madrassas being run miles away from their homes.

The earthquake had evoked a tremendous response from among ordinary Pakistanis, non-governmental organisations, Muslim groups, and various charities associated with militant groups to help the survivors.

They included the al-Rashid Trust, which is banned by the UN Security Council and accused of being a conduit for Al-Qaeda financing.

The group is also on Pakistan's own terrorism watch list.

The UN delivered aid to relief camps controlled by al-Rashid, in the form of tents, trucks, medicine, blankets and schools.

UN agencies also worked with Jamaat ud-Dawa, another charity, which the US state department claims has close associations with the outlawed militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Upon being asked why they had worked with such extremist groups, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator, Jan Vandemoortele said they adopted a humanitarian approach and didn't want those people to be left aside.

"No, we never worked with them. We were active in the camps that were run by them. From a humanitarian perspective we did not take a position that we would leave those people aside.

We knew those people needed help. We intervened but we never had any direct relationship with those groups," The Nation quoted Jan as saying in BBC's File on Four programme.

According to the UN, Jamaat ud-Dawa and al-Rashid Trust and their brand of extremist Islam never had a big presence in these areas before the earthquake, but their relief efforts and the aid they got from international agencies, had really boosted their position locally.

Quoting a Jamaat leader, the report said people were now trusting them with their children, even as they had already sent 400 such children under the age of nine to board at their madrassas, or religious schools, some hundreds of miles from their homes.

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