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Chitral’s high suicide rate shocks Austrian envoy

CHITRAL, Oct 22: Austrian Ambassador to Pakistan Axel Wech during his week-long visit to Chitral expressed dismay over the high rate of suicides, especially among young women in the valley.

He recommended a study to be undertaken to evaluate the causes and find a solution to the problem. The possibility of Austrian engagement was also discussed. The Ambassador’s visit was jointly organized by the Austrian NGO – Hope’87 – and the Hashoo Foundation, says a press release issued by the Hashoo Foundation, Chitral. The purpose of the visit was to inspect several Austrian development assistance projects.

The Senior Regional Program Manager of Hashoo Foundation, Mr. Sultan Mahmood, accompanied the Ambassador during his entire trip to different parts of Chitral. Austria’s engagement in Chitral is focused on Disaster Risk Reduction as well as education. The Ambassador was briefed on the HOPE’87/Hashoo Foundation and Government of KPK project of “A Safer Tomorrow Project” in which 80 teachers and 4,000 students of 20 schools in 3 Union Councils were trained in Search and Rescue, hazard mapping and school safety plans. Emergency kits were also provided to all the 20 schools and the Civil Defence department Chitral.

During his visit to Chitral, Ambassador Wech also inaugurated a school building in Ayun, which is recently rehabilitated by Hope’87 and Hashoo Foundation. The Ambassador appreciated the work of the Youth Development Centre in Chitral, where over 300 women have been trained in life skills, English language and computer skills and expressed his hope that further centres will be established in other parts of the region.

The ambassador also congratulated Hashoo Foundation for their successful Honey Bee Farming Project which received the BBC world challenge award 2008. It should be underlined that the Austrian company GeoConsult is supervising the construction of the Lowari Tunnel Project, which together with the engagement in the Development Cooperation highlights the focus Austria is giving to Chitral.

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