The tragedy of the East Pakistani refugees in India rolls inexorably on. The next month?
The tragedy of the East Pakistani refugees in India rolls inexorably on. The next month will prove critical for tens of thousands of refugee children, who face an imminent death from malnutrition. Their one hope of survival is Operation Lifeline, the Indian government's emergency relief operation to set up nutritional units in the hard-pressed refugee camps.
Continuing his coverage of the camps under threat of this latest crisis, cameraman Jagdish Kapoor visited Balukka camp in Nadia district -- one of four West Bengal districts scheduled to receive the new therapy units. There next month will determine how many of them live or die.
Our first coverage of the malnutrition threat, 10949/71 INDIA: PAKISTANI REFUGEE CHILDREN SUFFERING FROM MALNUTRITION -- OVER ONE-HUNDRED THOUSAND DEAD SO FAR, was serviced yesterday.
SYNOPSIS: Tens of thousands of East Pakistani refugee children in India are currently facing the most critical month in their lives. Lack of food, lack of accommodation, lack of sanitation--all these have combined to confront these children with imminent death. And it will b a month before an Indian Government relief operation swings into action to save them.
Balukka camp is in Nadia district--one of the four areas of West Bengal scheduled to receive Indian government relief. Over twenty-five thousand refugees live here, ten-thousand of them children. Many are suffering from diseases such as dysentery and gastroenteritis. But the major threat of death comes from malnutrition. The government plans to try and avert the impending tragedy with a scheme called Operation Lifeline. It calls for fifteen nutritional therapy units for children to be set up in each of the four districts.
Attached to each clinic there will be one doctor and four nurses, with a number of other medical staff. Seven times the number of planned clinics will have to become operational before the crisis can be fully overcome. In the meantime, thousands of children face a month-long fight for survival.