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Pandemic highlights plight of Pakistan's poor

Distribution of relief is being hampered by low literacy levels and a lockdown as religious minorities are denied help

Pandemic highlights plight of Pakistan's poor

Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad-Rawalpindi distributes relief packages with Caritas Pakistan staff at St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral in Rawalpindi on April 7. (Photo: Kamran Sattar)

Published: April 08, 2020 09:09 AM GMT

Updated: April 08, 2020 09:11 AM GMT

Danish Masih has been struggling to register for an emergency cash transfer program since losing his job during the coronavirus pandemic.

Masih, 25, used to work at a book-binding store and earned 700 rupees (US$4.18) for taping 3,000 books every day. His store was closed after the Punjab government imposed a lockdown last month after a spike in cases in Pakistan's most populous province.

“The owners only called me once to hand over 500 rupees. They asked me to stay at home until work resumes. We are fed up with insults from the house owner asking for rent. God has stopped providing us,” he told UCA News. 

His hopes were rekindled when the government launched the Ehsaas Emergency Cash program this month. The only problem is that he has to apply online to access the grant of 12,000 rupees. He does not own a computer or a smartphone.

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