Statement by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Geneva, 16 July 1971
Thank you for giving me the floor. May I, at the outset, say that I greatly appreciate and welcome this opportunity of reporting to the Council. My statement this morning will relate, in detail, to the immense humanitarian needs of the refugees from East Pakistan in India. I shall endeavour to sketch the full dimensions of this problem for you, and shall give an account of the response from the United Nations system to alleviate the plight of these refugees. In so doing, I shall seek to answer the specific requests for information that were addressed to me earlier, particularly by the New Zealand delegation. As members of the Council know, the Secretary-General asked me to co-ordinate the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations system on behalf of these unfortunate uprooted people. I know I speak for the Secretary-General and my colleagues, the Executive Heads of the other UN Programmes and Agencies involved, when I say that this problem is of the greatest concern to all of us. Through our co-ordinated action, we are promoting - and shall continue to promote - the most effective and total response of the UN system. We are clear that our effort, to be worthwhile, must relate in all its essentials to the enormity of the problem.
The recent exodus of East Pakistanis started after 25 March 1971 and reached very rapidly alarming proportions. The total number reported by the Government of India as of 12 July was over 6 million 849 thousand, distributed as follows:
West Bengal 5,277.800
Assam, Meghalaya and Bihar 509.100
There is no doubt, therefore, that we are confronted with one of the major population movements of modern history, with all the tragic aspects of human misery and suffering that such movements entail.
Chronology of events
From the first days of the influx of the East Pakistanis, the Indian authorities and people made a considerable effort, at the local, State and Central levels to receive the refugees by providing shelter, food and medical assistance. A number of voluntary agencies that were normally working in the areas of refugee influx adapted themselves immediately to the emergency and started to take care of the newcomers.
During the same period consultations took place in New Delhi between the Government of India and the United Nations Programme and Specialized Agencies represented in India, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
On 23 April 1971, the Government of India, through their Permanent Representative to the United Nations, requested the Secretary-General for aid from the United Nations system and other related organizations and suggested, inter alia, that preliminary discussions should take place in New Delhi between the Indian authorities and the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Secretary-General brought the matter to the attention of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination which met in Bern on 26 and 27 April 1971 and, after consultations, decided on 29 April that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should act as the focal point for the co-ordination of assistance from all the organizations of the United Nations system.
After immediate consultations with the Government of India, I sent a mission to India composed of Messrs, Charles Mace, Deputy High Commissioner, Thomas Jamieson, Director of Operations, and Dr. Paul Weis, Legal Consultant of my Office. The mission was in India from 6 to 19 may 1971, had occasion to visit refugee areas and had discussions with representatives of the Government of India, of the United Nations Programmes and Specialized Agencies represented in India, as well as with representatives of non-governmental organizations interested in the problem. A succinct on the findings of this three-man mission has been shared with governments through their permanent representatives and also through representatives of UNHCR or the resident representatives of UNDP in the various capitals.
Even before the return of the three-man mission, two United Nations bodies that were already carrying out extensive programmes in India immediately provided assistance from available means to the refugees from East Pakistan. I refer to the World Food Programme which, in response to a request of the Indian Government of 26 April, made available within a few weeks food items valuing 3.1 million dollars. Additionally, early in may, UNICEF made available milk powder, medical supplies and vehicles for a total value of 600,000.
Also before the return of the three men from India and although the number of refugees had not yet reached its present magnitude, it became clear that the concerted action by the UN system which had been envisaged by the Secretary-General would require ad hoc measures for inter-agency consultation and coordination. Accordingly, I invited the executive heads of the UN Programmes and Agencies most directly concerned to send representatives to a meeting of what has become the Standing Inter-Agency Consultation Unit. The first meeting of this Unit was held in the Palais des Nations on 18 May 1971. A representative of the League of Red Cross Societies was also invited to participate in the work of the Unit, which has been meeting regularly ever since. I shall revert, later, to this important aspect of our coordinated activity.
On 19 May 1971, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched an appeal for emergency assistance for refugees from East Pakistan in India. In this appeal he voiced his concern at the plight of the refugees, expressed the hope that they would be "voluntarily repatriated at the earliest possible time", indicated "that, pending such repatriation, massive external assistance will be required on an emergency basis " and appealed "to governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as private sources, to help meet the urgent needs". The Secretary-General indicated his decision that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees should act as the focal point for the coordination of assistance from all the organizations of the system and expressed his certainty that in responding positively and generously to his humanitarian appeal donors would "make use to the greatest extent possible of the established channels of the United Nations family, in particular the Office of the UNHCR, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization". He also expressed the hope that donors would keep UNHCR "informed of all action thus taken or contemplated and that they would utilize the arrangements made by the High Commissioner to ensure the coordination, and to maximize the impact of external assistance".
I followed-up this appeal a few days later. Together with a succinct report of the three of the three-man mission, governments were provided with the detailed estimates of requirements established by the Government of India on 16 May 1971, and which had been communicated to the three man mission.
In order to handle effectively and speedily the growing work-load resulting from my designation as the focal point of the UN system, I have already constituted a small ad hoc unit comprising UNHCR staff members This unit will need to be strengthened by drawing upon additional staff as the operation gathers increasing momentum. The staff resources of my small Office have already been heavily taxed as a result of this major emergency. We shall have to take this into account in our planning so as to ensure that our other activities are not neglected.
In agreement with the Government of India, I sent a very senior officer of UNHCR, Mr. Thomas Jamieson, to represent the focal point for the UN system in New Delhi. Mr. Jamieson took up his duties on 5 June 1971. This representation has since been strengthened by detailing two senior officers to New Delhi.
Meanwhile, the Government of India had established a Central Coordination Committee for Refugee Relief. The representative of the focal point, as well as representatives of other interested UN Programmes and Specialized Agencies participate in the activities of this Committee upon the invitation of the Indian authorities.
Situation in India
The situation in the refugee areas of the states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya, not to mention other areas where refugees have been transported, has been abundantly described and illustrated by the mass media and otherwise. It is a situation created by the massive, overwhelming arrival of millions of people in a state of destitution and physical exhaustion. It is a situation of great human misery.
I have been reading and I read daily, as do indeed the members of this Economic and Social Council, criticisms directed to the United Nations and to others about what is said to be lack of action, slowness in response and such like. My colleagues in the United Nations system and I myself have been, unfortunately, over the years, accustomed to see and experience many situations where thousands, if not millions of people are the sudden victims of events, and we know that neither shelter, nor food, nor water supply, nor sanitation, nor adequate medical care can be improvised overnight. I should like here, Mr. President, to pay wholeheartedly a warm tribute to the thousands of men and women who as officials of the Indian Government, or as members of inter-governmental or non-governmental organizations, or simply as private persons, have stretched their efforts to the limits of their capacity. They have done a magnificent job from the very state of this emergency.
Of the reported 6 million East Pakistanis in India at the end of June, it is estimated by the Government of India that some 3 million are accommodated in camps, 1 million in ad hoc reception centres, such as schools and other public buildings, and some 2 million with friends, relatives or more generally accommodated by the local population.
The situation in the camps varies from barely tolerable to extremely serious. It will be realized that even in the best organized camps, the situation deteriorates instantly if several thousand new people arrive within a matter of hours and this has reportedly happened frequently.
The refugees accommodated in schools and public buildings have created a serious problem of disruption of the educational and administrative arrangements in the States that have been affected. More adequate accommodation has to be provided in order to restore, as much as possible, some kind of liveable condition in these areas and prevent the problems, created by such a massive influx, from increasing and developing.
Similarly, the accommodation of millions of people with the local population in an already densely populated area cannot last but for a relatively short time. A major problem, therefore, of the relief action is the provision of shelter, to which I shall revert.
This situation is particularly acute in the Calcutta area (which, as is well known, has been confronted with overpopulation and very difficult social problems for some years past) and also in Tripura. The Indian Government has therefore initiated a scheme of temporary resettlement of refugees in other areas and has established a number of huge reception camps which can accommodate each up to 50,000 refugees in other States of the Republic. The transportation aircraft partly made available, by other governments, as well as by rail and road.
Fortunately the Indian Government had available, at the time the emergency started, adequate buffer stocks of food which were maintained as a safeguard against drought and other natural disasters. The immediate problem was therefore a matter of logistics and transportation rather than a lack of local food resources. On the other hand, the buffer stocks are a vital aspect of the overall food planning in India and need to be replenished. Furthermore, whilst considerable quantities of staple food could be made available, this did not necessarily apply to vital elements of an even reduced daily diet, e.g. pulses and edible oils, of which only limited stocks were available. Neither did it apply to children's food which is all important in an emergency relief action.
One of the most difficult problems in the accommodation of refugees concerns possibly sanitation in camps and reception centres. This is also directly linked with the problem of drinking water. There is no doubt that the lack of sanitation for millions of new arrivals has considerably increased the health hazards, and I am referring not only to cholera but also to all forms of enteritis and other illnesses. Measures have already been taken by the Indian authorities and also within the framework of UN action to improve sanitary conditions, but effective results in this particular field are much more difficult to obtain in a short period of time.
An important aspect of the situation in India is the problem of transportation and logistics. There are very few main roads leading to the refugee areas. This is especially true, for geographic reasons which can easily be understood by looking at a map, for the States of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The transportation of considerable quantities of food and other items from ports of arrival or places of storage requires vehicles and this in itself poses a problem. These difficulties are compounded by the considerable distances from the main ports of arrival (Calcutta is at least near to certain refugee areas, but not to Tripura and Assam) and places of storage, some of which seems to be particularly heavy this year, makes secondary roads impassible. This necessitates a most imaginative responds and may indeed require an increasing use of sophisticated means of delivery, including possibly helicopters, to avert disaster.
All those elements which I must of necessity describe very briefly (the considerable numbers of refugees, the lack of additional shelter, additional food, additional medical facilities, additional sanitation and additional logistics for millions of people, not to mention the monsoon) make the assistance to East Pakistani refugees in India one of the largest and most difficult emergency actions of our time.
The Government of India made a first global assessment of requirements (food, shelter, medical supplies, vehicles and other needs) on 16 May 1971 at the time of the time of the visit of UNHCR three-man mission. These estimates were based on the assumption that there would be a refuge population of 3 million in India during a period of six months as from the end of March 1971. The total of these requirements as established by the Government of India amounted to the equivalent of 175 million US dollars. This figure was mentioned by the Secretary-General in his appeal of 19 May 1971.
As a result of the further influx of refugees, the Government of India recently communicated to the focal point revised estimates as of 26 June 1971, based on the needs of an average population of 6 million refugees over a period of six months, also from the end of March 1971.
These revised estimates amount to the equivalent of 400 million US dollars and have been transmitted to governments.
Contributions to the United Nations System
I am glad to be able to report to the Council that the response to the Secretary-General's appeal of 19 May 1971 was immediate, in that millions of dollars were pledged to the focal point within the two following days.
The situation as of two days ago is that a total of 47.7 million dollars in cash and 51.7 million dollars in kind, making a grant total of 99.4 million dollars has been pledged to the focal point, the greater part of these contributions (93.9 million dollars) was contributed by governments, whereas 4.4 million dollars was made available from resources already available to the UN system (from the World Food Programme, UNICEF, WHO and UNHCR).
The Council may wish to know that the contributions to the focal point also include 1.1 million dollars received from non-governmental sources. This figure, which is small as compared with the present needs, would have been regarded in other circumstances as quite considerable. Its significance resides in the fact that quite a number of non-governmental organizations have welcomed the designation of a focal point within the UN system and are prepared to cooperate with this focal point in various ways, including the channelling of contributions through it.
Contributions outside the Focal Point
As in other circumstances, a number of governments have chosen to assist the East Pakistani refugees in India by making donations in kind and in cash directly to the Indian authorities. In certain cases, these contributions are over and above significant contributions made through the focal point. A number of governments have kept the Secretary-General or the High Commissioner for Refugees informed of their bilateral financial support. On the basis of available indications, the bilateral efforts of government can be estimated as the equivalent of 49 million dollars.
As I already stated, the sudden influx of East Pakistanis into India created immediately considerable concern around the work, not only in governments, but also in the public at large and in charitable and humanitarian non-governmental organizations. From the earliest sage of the emergency, therefore, a number of non-governmental organizations have provided assistance to the East Pakistani refugees in India either form available resources, or from funds received from governments, or by raising funds individually or through ad hoc appeals. We are endeavouring to collect precise information on these efforts, which can, at present, be estimated at an equivalent of 17 million dollars in cash and in kind.
I should also like to mention the League of Red Cross, Red Crescent, Red Lion and Sun Societies. Following a request received from the Indian Red Cross, the Secretary-General of the League appealed to the affiliated national societies for funds and donations in kind. Thanks to their response, the League has received so far a total equivalent to US $ 3.2 million in cash and in kind. This is being made available to the Indian Red Cross which acts within the overall framework established by the Indian authorities. The Indian Red Cross has accepted responsibility for a supplementary feeding programme (particularly for children and nursing mothers) and for supplementary medical care. Quite naturally, we maintain very close cooperation and consultation with the League of Red Cross Societies which, as already indicated, participates in the Standing Inter-Agency Consultation Unit.
Functioning of the Focal Point
I should like to amplify, at this stage, on the functioning of the coordinating mechanism we have devised to maximise assistance for the East Pakistani refugees in India. Broadly, the functions are three-fold:
(a) To mobilize and secure international support and contributions.
(b) To arrange for the procurement of supplies in a coordinated manner and to deliver the supplies to India.
(c) To maintain close liaison with the Government of India.
These functions are carried out in close association with UNICEF, FAO, WFP, WHO and also the League of Red Cross Societies. Very soon after the initial measures of coordination were taken, a natural division of roles emerged between the various members of the UN family associated in this effort and this has been accepted by all those concerned.
The Focal Point receives contributions in cash and keeps a record of contributions announced in kind. Subject to the necessary consultations with the Government of India, members of the United Nations system concerned and also, where need be, with the donors, the focal point makes funds available either directly to the Government of India or through UN Programmes or Specialized Agencies which purchase the necessary items ad arrange for their delivery to India
The focal point also covers transportation costs when free transportation cannot be obtained and has made arrangements for coordination of air transportation which, as the members of the Council will realize, is a complex requirement in such an emergency. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration offered its technical experience in transportation matters to us. Two of its staff members, who are experts in this subject, are now on loan to the focal point.
In the early phase of the emergency UNICEF provided, from available resources, children's food, medical supplies, vehicles and other items. UNICEF furthermore is the only programme of the United Nations system equipped and accustomed to handle general relief items. It plays therefore a very important role as an agency of supply and delivery to India of shelter material, vehicles, medicine and equipment, children's food, etc.
A major role is naturally being assumed by the World Food Programme and FAO. Contributions in food are being reported by the focal point to WFP, which takes care of all further arrangements such as reception from the donors shipment, delivery to India, etc. WFP also acts as the purchasing agency for food items which have to be bought outside India.
WHO is the check point for all health supplies. It performed a vital role when cholera occurred in the refugee areas and it continues to play an important role of coordination and supply in the health and medial field.
Whilst it is premature, at this stage, to draw any broad conclusion of an organizational nature form the activities of the focal point, there is no doubt that after a very short period of unavoidable adjustment, the various pieces of this complicated and intricate international machinery have fitted in together in a much smoother way than many of us would have thought possible initially. There is not only an excellent understanding between the executive heads concerned but there does prevail at working level a climate of genuine cooperation, a feeling of common undertaking that I am pleased to report to the Council, since it has frequently expressed an interest in efficient coordination within the UN system.
There is one aspect of the duties entrusted to me by the Secretary-General upon which I should elaborate. It relates to the raising of funds and the making available of these funds.
As regards contributions in cash, there is, of course, some delay between the announcement of a contribution and its actual payment. This delay, when it is not too long, does not play a significant role in normal programme activities. It can however, be an in a real emergency, as the one I am commenting upon now before the Council, and I and grateful to those governments which have been able to pay, rapidly, the amounts pledged,
There is also the problem of contributions which are being paid only gradually and on a conditional basis, calling upon the focal point to undertake time-consuming negotiations between the donor governments, New Delhi and Geneva. In this respect, too, I am grateful to those governments which have found its possible to make the funds available on the basis of the estimates of requirements which we circulated to them.
The positions is that as of 14 July, the amount of each actually received by the focal point amounts to 13.3 millions dollars as against total pledges in cash of 47.7 million dollars. All the funds received are either spent or committed.
Regarding contributions in kind, this is essentially a matter of logistics. Whilst its has been possible to airlift to India a number of goods donated. Particularly medical supplies and light shelter material, it is much more difficult to send by air bulk food, vehicles and other heavy goods. There is, therefore, a time gap between the announcement of contributions in kind and their actual delivery on the spot. This is only one of the technical difficulties in this large relief actions and I should like to assure the Council that every effort is being made to reduce this time gap to the minimum.
I should now like to provide you with details of the action taken:
It was clear from the very outset that concentrated efforts had to be directed towards meeting the requirement for shelter. The Government of India for more than 800,000 persons. It has already obtained 36,000 tents and 750 tarpaulins with further deliveries expected by the end of this month and during August. Cash contributions through the United Nations system were mad available to the Government to cover part of the cost of these local purchases.
Furthermore UNICEF, with funds provided by the focal point, took immediate action to arrange for the purchase and airlifting from abroad of shelter material including polythene sheeting, tents and tarpaulins. Deliveries by UNICEF have already been effected covering shelter requirements for approximately one million persons to cover the needs of a further million persons. In addition, material to provide shelter for about 300,000 persons has been purchased by UNICEF in India. I must also mention the significant contributions in shelter material which were provided through bilateral arrangements with the Government of India as well as by voluntary agencies.
The Government has indicated in its now revised list of requirements that it is taking the necessary steps for the provision of "basha" huts, light structures of local material with polythene sheeting whenever possible, to provide accommodation for approximately three million persons, at a total cost of some 48 million dollars. It is my earnest hope that substantial cash donations could be made available to the Government of India to assist in meeting this vital need.
In the revised request of 26 June 1971, the Indian Government estimated that 776,000 metric tons of basic food (i.e. rice, pulses, sugar and oil) are required to feed an average population of 6 million refugees over a period of six months. This quantity excludes items such as salt, milk powder and children's food of which a total quantity of 30,000 tons is also necessary as supplementary feeding.
Of the bulk food items requested by the Government, almost half have been delivered or pledged so far through the focal point and also to the extent that is known to us, on a bilateral basis. If however the situation is examined item by item, it will be noticed that offers made to far do not always correspond to the demand. For instance, wheat has been offered while this item is not very palatable to the population concerned. On the other hand, up to 580,000 tons of rice are required while 160,000 only have been offered. This is particularly disturbing when there are over the world ten countries which export each more than 100,000 tons of rice every year. The same remark applies to pulses of which a maximum of 124,000 tons are required while 9,500 tons have been offered in India if funds were made available, while 10,000 tons of edible oil and the same quantity of milk powder are still necessary. I would like to urge the countries producing these food items, particularly rice, to make a special effort so as to help bridge the gap between the requirements and the aid already pledged or delivered.
With respect to supplementary items, there is still today a deficit of some 10,000 tons of milk powder and about the same quantity of salt. In an effort to reach some 1.5 million children, 5,000 tons of high-protein food valued at about 300,000 dollars have been purchased by UNICEF in India with funds provided by the focal point. This is being used now to fill the gap until the arrival of at least 10,000 tons of a similar type of food for the children, donated by the Government of the United States of America and due to arrive in India in the course of August and September.
In May, at the time of the visit of the three-man mission to India, a specialist from WHO was associated with the group. The unprecedented influx had created difficulties in providing the most elementary medical attention. There was also malnutrition and a deterioration in sanitary conditions. The general picture was conducive to the rapid spread of infectious disease.
There was an acute shortage of drugs, hospital and other medical equipment, and a lack of vaccines and other supplies for disease prevention programmes. Facilities for coping with the sanitation needs were completely inadequate.
Since May, there has of course been a marked increase in the number of refugees and steps have been taken by the Government of India and the Indian Red Cross to deal with the health situation.
One of the most dramatic health problems in the area has been that of cholera. The disease, which is endemic in that part of the world, increased to serious proportions in view of the epidemiologic situation and because of difficulties in providing adequate sanitation for the refugees.
About 11 million doses of cholera vaccine have been sent to the Indian Government from all sources, and WHO feels that the supply should be continued for the time being in case of further outbreaks. Nevertheless, vaccination is not the only or the best means of preventing the spread of cholera, and other action is being taken by the Government of basic health, sanitation and water facilities.
It was estimated that by 22 June there were some 25,000 to 30,000 cases of cholera and about 4,000 known deaths in hospitals and medical centres. Because of the difficulty in ascertaining the actual cause of death, these figures are probably in ascertaining the actual cause of death, these figures are probably under-estimates. Because of poor sanitary conditions and the movements of some refugees from the camps, it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the future. A careful watch must therefore be maintained while emergency measures are taken to cope with the current situation.
WHO is working closely with focal point and is sending supplies to India for the treatment and prevention of cholera and other medical supplies for dealing with the general health situation. This has been done in response to a request received by WHO from the Government of India. To date 80% of all supplies requested and agreed have been delivered and are now being utilized in the refugee areas. The remaining 20% is essentially rehydration fluid, which is being shipped on a weekly basis. The total weight of all the supplies shipped and awaiting shipment is estimated to be 400 tone. At the same time WHO, in co-operation with the focal point and in close consultation with the Government, is working out further requirements for both immediate and medium term needs and action is under way to meet them. This action includes the making available of stocks of antibiotics and anti-malarials to meet possible outbreaks of diphtheria and typhoid and to combat malaria.
The Director of the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia a visit to the refugee camps at the end of June with the Secretary of the Ministry of Health in order to review the health situation and to work out the necessary requirements for the immediate future. He has also made available the services of senior WHO staff for constant contact with the Government on all matters related to this problem.
In view of the tremendous strain on the Indian transportation system, additional means have and to be found for moving relief goods from the port or airfield of entry to the refugee areas. In the first place efforts have been made to obtain vehicles from Indian manufacturers and from stocks available in India. To supplement these, the Government of India has included trucks, jeeps and trailers in the list of material required from abroad. In order to transport the sick, ambulances are also needed. The magnitude of the need can be seen from the numbers requested by the Government: 768 trucks, 480 jeeps, 244 trailers and 120 ambulances.
All-purpose jeeps, lorries, trailers and small ambulances have been made available by UNICEF, and more jeeps are being diverted from existing UNICEF projects in India. Other transport has been provided, by airlift, through the League of Red Cross Societies and voluntary agencies.
To bridge the gap between the transport now available and the total requirements, orders have been or are being placed in India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, as the delivery dates for these vehicles vary from late August to early October, ways and means are being urgently considered to locate and put into operation for the interim period transport already in India. The possibility is also being investigated of airlifting some of the most urgently needed transport items such as small ambulances.
I have been dealing so far with the emergency relief action and I realize that one question is very much on the mind of all those who have been preoccupied by this problem: what next?
Here, I would like to repeat the earnest hope expressed by the Secretary-General in his appeal of 19 May, that these unfortunate people will be voluntarily repatriated at the earliest possible time.
I have noted in this connection that the Government of India has stressed the urgency of an early return, as the refugees cannot be permanently settled in India. I have also noted the Government of Pakistan's position that the refugees should repatriate. I would like to assure the Council that I stand ready to facilitate, in any way possible, the voluntary repatriation of the refugees. That, indeed, must remain the humanitarian goal that guides our endeavours. I am only too aware of the complexities of the situation. The need above all is to ensure a climate of confidence, one in which the refugee himself will voluntarily wish to repatriate.
As members know, it was in a large measure for this reason that I visited Pakistan and India month at the invitation of the two Governments, I wish to thank them for the opportunity provided to me to study the situation and share in an exchange of views. I am heartened that certain Governments have, in announcing their contributions, already earmarked funds to promote and facilitate voluntary repatriation. I am also heartened to have received recently the agreement of the Government of Pakistan to the posting of a senior officer in Dacca. I am certain that his presence that will be useful now, and more so later, when - as we all earnestly hope - the process of voluntary repatriation gathers momentum. Till then, as the Secretary-General has said earlier and as is essential, massive external assistance will be required for the emergency relief operation in India.
Coordination with the UN relief action in East Pakistan
The Council is aware that the Secretary-General launched an appeal on 16 June for a United Nations humanitarian relief action in East Pakistan. In his appeal, the Secretary-General pointed out that, whilst it was a separate operation, distinct from the programme of assistance to refugees from East Pakistan are improved, there will be a better possibility of arresting and reversing the flow of refugees." In view of this, close coordinating links are being maintained between the staff conducting the two operations.
Mr. President, I have described a situation of stark tragedy affecting an immense number of human beings. It is no wonder therefore that I wish to approach this problem in a humanitarian way. Everything must be endeavoured to alleviate the distress of the refugees. We are grateful for the generosity already demonstrated. The needs for the present are vast, and require further massive assistance from the international community. However, the Council is aware of the fact that relief in itself is no permanent solution. In these circumstances, I can only reiterate the critical importance of voluntary repatriation as the best solution to the problem. We all know the complexities and dangers in such a situation. We need to direct our attention to resolving them.