• Short Summary

    A new airlift--moving thousands of displaced refugees back to their ancestral homes--is helping to cement peace in Laos after more than twenty-five years of conflict.

  • Description

    A new airlift--moving thousands of displaced refugees back to their ancestral homes--is helping to cement peace in Laos after more than twenty-five years of conflict.

    The operation is being organised and run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), at the request of the Laotian Provisional Government of National Unity headed by Prince Souvanna Phouma. Representatives of the Government and the Lao Patriotic Front (Pathet Lao) are assisting United Nations teams in carrying cut the airlift.

    The airlift is considered to be of major importance in the programme of national reconstruction following the Vientiane Peace Agreement of February, 1973, and the Peace Protocol of September, 1973, ending the quarter-century of war between the Government forces of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao forces of his brother, Prince Souphanouvong.

    Revitalisation of Lao's shaky economy is essential for future stability. But this task--a problem for even highly industrialised nations--is especially difficult in Laos, which has the lowest population density of any southeast Asian state. With only 3.25 million inhabitants for an area of 236.800 square kilometres (88,800 square miles), it is crucial that the greatest use be made of all the arable land available in this essentially agricultural economy.

    Following the Government's appeal to the UNHCR last June, arrangements were made to begin the airlift operation this year. Mixed teams of Government representatives and Pathet Lao forces accompany UNHCR officials to camps and villages along the banks of the Mekong river, where they explain the operation to the refugees. Emphasis is put on the fact that villagers have complete freedom of choice where they want to settle...but most of them are only too happy to have the chance to return home.

    Once at home, the villagers and welcomed by more of the mixed Laotian Government and Pathet Lao teams, and are given aid and assistance in resettlement. By the end of February, more than 12,000 refugees had been returned to their homes, and--as the UNHCR census continues among the villages on the Mekong--it seems likely that several hundred thousand displaced Laotians will be returned to their own villages before the massive airlift ends.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVAABYX8V32ISZQ28ECFIYO1VVAO
    Media URN:
    VLVAABYX8V32ISZQ28ECFIYO1VVAO
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    13/03/1975
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:03:29:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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