The imposition of martial law in Poland over the weekend (12-13 December) has caused a state of uncertainty over what will happen to shipments of aid heading for the country.
GV ZOOM INTO SV Sign above doorway 'Un Noel pour les Polonais'
SV PAN Parcels being sorted and put into boxes
SV People handing over parcels and goods (2 shots)
SV Woman brings in large parcel wrapped in Christmas gift paper PAN TO other goods (washing powders) being sorted and boxed
GV Packed boxes being loaded into container
Background: The imposition of martial law in Poland over the weekend (12-13 December) has caused a state of uncertainty over what will happen to shipments of aid heading for the country. With sever travel restriction in force both at the Polish borders and inside the country, the fate of the aid remains unclear -- despite the fact that it is all badly needed by Polish civilians.
SYNOPSIS: In the French capital, Paris, people were handing individual contributions to this collection centre shortly before the imposition on Saturday (12 December) evening of the martial law order. It had been planned to det the goods into Poland for Christmas. Now, that deadline is uncertain. The majority of the parcels here were donated by expatriate Poles living either in Paris or in surrounding areas.
Similar aid schemes, operated by expatriate Poles, have been set up in other countries. Most donations aim to counter the worst consumer good shortages in Poland -- of basic items like washing powder, soap, sugar, fats and powdered milk. Once the gifts are sorted and wrapped they often find their way into Poland on Polish trucks which have brought exports into western Europe. When it gets to Poland much of the basic aid, especially powdered milk is distributed by the Roman Catholic Church, which has proved the most effective channel for those items needed the most.
Officials in Poland welcome this kind of unofficial aid but they admit it solves only a very small part of the overall problem of shortages. At a government level Polish leaders have been forced to go to other countries for aid . The Soviet Union and China have provided extra meat; North America and European countries have also been supplying aid steadily. Even so, the situation inside Poland remain serious. Even before the imposition of martial law, official distribution was chaotic.
In Holland on Sunday (13 December) just a few hours after the announcement of military rule these trucks carrying aid were lining up to leave for the Polish border. Whether they will be allowed to enter the country still remains unclear. The same day, EEC Officials in Brussels expressed concern over the fate of the community's huge food aid programme for Poland. Plans. for food are in the final stages. It had been hoped to get the package to Poland to help the country get through the tough winter months. Now, because of continuing uncertainty over what is happening in the country the EEC package, along with other forms of aid could be seriously delayed.