Trains and aircraft have been criss-crossing the Indian sub-continent for two months repatriating minority groups isolated from their homelands.
Trains and aircraft have been criss-crossing the Indian sub-continent for two months repatriating minority groups isolated from their homelands. At least 200,000 people - the human left overs of the Indo-Pakistan war - will have been moved by the time the repatriation programme ends.
The airlift between Pakistan and Bangladesh is now in full stride. Under the New Delhi agreement, it is operated by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The High Commissioner Sadruddin Aga Khan accompanied a flight of refugees from Karachi in Pakistan to Dacca airport earlier this months. Later he discussed the progress of the airlift with the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Groups of Bengali troops and civilians who had been held in Pakistan, flew into Dacca airport soon after the Aga Khan's plane landed.
The repatriation airlift began with two chartered Boeing 727's. Now six planes are flying between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Some of them make two return flights between Dacca and Karachi a day. Four planes have been donated by United Nations member countries and two others have been chartered by the High Commission for Refugees.
The flights go on 24 hours a day and there are several crews for each aircraft. The operation, which began in mid-September and is scheduled to end in March is proving very costly. Too finance it, the High Commission has asked the world for GBP 5.6 million ($14m), but so far less than half this amount has been forthcoming.
SYNOPSIS: These aircraft at Karachi airport in Pakistan mean freedom for the thousands of Bengalis who were left an unwelcome minority in Pakistan by the Indo-Pakistan war.
The repatriation operation is being carried out by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Sadruddin Aga Khan, the High Commissioner, accompanied one group of refugees home to Bangladesh earlier this month.
Trains and aircraft have been criss-crossing the Indian sub-continent for two months, repatriating minority groups isolated by the war from their homeland.
The airlift between Pakistan and Bangladesh is now in full stride. Six planes are flying the route: some of them making two return flights daily.
At least 200,000 people were made refugees by the war. The United Nations hopes to return them all home by the end of March - six months after the massive airlift was started. So far 60,000 people have been moved.
Dacca airport in Bangladesh and the end the long road home.
Sadruddin Aga Khan is anxious to complete the operation by the deadline. He has asked the world for GBP 5 1/2 million to finance the airlift, but so far less than half of this amount has been forthcoming.
But as long as the money lasts, the flights go on. Several crews have been assigned to each of the six regular planes and they keep the operation going 24 hours a day.
The problems of finance were certain to have been among the points Sadruddin Aga Khan discussed when he had talks with the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dacca.