A new and entirely independent force--the weather--is threatening to change all the circumstances in the East Pakistan crisis.
A new and entirely independent force--the weather--is threatening to change all the circumstances in the East Pakistan crisis. While fighting continues between West Pakistani soldiers and East Pakistan forces, and refugees swarm across the East Pakistan border into India, reportedly in their millions, the monsoon season has arrived.
So far, the monsoon hasn't hit in force. But if the heavy annual torrent of rain does start coming down in force opposing troops are likely to be bogged down in mud; the flood of refugees is almost certainly going to be brought to a halt in mid-stride; and--most important of all-the several million refugees already across the border in Indian camps could have their Indian Government and international charity organisation food supplies brought to a complete halt. Imminent starvation could face the refugees, because confronted with a heavy monsoon, human, aid is powerless. This situationer on the refugee problem, filmed by a British Broadcasting Corporation team, illustrates the current problem--and points to the dangers yet to come.
SYNOPSIS: Refugees form the fighting in East Pakistan have recently been flooding into India--reportedly in their millions. The number of East Pakistanis already in India, being supported by a hard-pressed India Government and international charity organisations, is said to be at least two million. And more are crossing the border every day.
A new and entirely independent force--the weather--is threatening to change circumstances in the current crisis. While fighting continues in East Pakistan and refugees flood across the border, the monsoon season has arrived. If this annual torrential downpour of tropical rain does arrive with its usual seasonal ferocity, it could bog down the opposing forces; bring the stream of refugees to a halt in mid-stride; and almost certainly halt the flow of food to refugees already in camp. It could cause mass starvation on a scale rarely seen--for in the face of a heavy monsoon human aid is almost powerless.
Some refugees have escaped with a few belongings; others with only their lives. Pakistani Government forces are reportedly trying to halt the flow across the border, but are said to be too thinly spread out to have much affect. Although the Pakistan Government and the Indian Government are traditionally at odds, the people of East Pakistan are Bengalis--hence the name "Bangla Desh" they have given to East Pakistan--and so are the Indians just across that border. For the meanwhile, the Indian Government has given much aid to the East Pakistan refugees.
International charity organisations like Britain's OXFAM are helping out with tents, food and organisation--despite earlier misgivings about offending the Pakistan Government and fears that they would not be allowed to help far greater numbers of needy people still in East Pakistan. Meanwhile, some refugees are helping themselves by building grass huts. One factor common to most of these people is the stories of atrocities they tell--of looting, murder and torture by Pakistani soldiers in East Pakistan. These stories, however, cannot be readily substantiated. For the time being the Indian Government and helping charities may just be able to cope with the problem of feeding these masses--provided the monsoons don't hit too herd. If they do, mass starvation could take place as food lines are bogged down.