In an article last week, the Economist reported that the ferocity of ethnic violence in Karachi, Pakistan, has forced the city’s paramedics to adopt an unusual policy in order to safely operate in the city:
ETHNIC warfare in Pakistan’s most populous city has reached such a level that Karachi’s ambulance service now has to send out a driver matching the racial make-up of the destination district to pick up the victims of gang attacks. Otherwise, the district’s gunmen will not let the ambulance through. Now ambulances themselves are coming under fire, as gangsters try to stop them saving the lives of their enemies.
Health workers, particularly paramedics, operating in areas of insecurity often have to adapt their standard operating procedures. However, this is the first time I have come across “ethnic matching” medics to patients in order to insure their safety during sectarian strife.
Christopher R. Albon is a political science Ph.D. specializing in armed conflict, public health, human security, and health diplomacy.