• Short Summary

    A squalid camp on the outskirts of Dacca is a grim reminder that tans of thousands of people are in danger of becoming permanent refugees, entirely dependent on international charity to remain alive.

  • Description

    A squalid camp on the outskirts of Dacca is a grim reminder that tans of thousands of people are in danger of becoming permanent refugees, entirely dependent on international charity to remain alive.

    Often called "Biharis", because they came to what was previously East Pakistan from the Indian State of Bihar, they are not wanted by any country. A quarter of a million of them want to go to Pakistan, but Pakistan is reluctant to accept them. And Bangladesh says that since they have chosen Pakistan, that is where they must go.

    The Biharie' trouble began when many of them sided with Pakistan during the 1971 civil war which ended with the creation of Bangladesh. Many were brutally murdered for their support of Pakistan by the victorious Bengali and Indian troops.

    Since the end of 1971, the Biharie have been cooped up in ghettos in the Dacca suburbs of Mohammedpur and Mirpur, and other parts of Bangladesh. Their numbers are estimated to be as high as 500,000.

    Under the new repatriation agreement between Pakistan and India, some 60,000 Biharis are expected to be accepted into Pakistan. But the fate of the remainder is to be decided at talks between Pakistan and Bangladesh, which in turn cannot be held until Pakistan recognises the new state of Bangladesh.

    Red Cross officials and diplomats are concerned that some 200,000 people will simply be forgotten. Pakistan says the Biharis would create tension with the local population, and Bangladesh says they would place an even greater strain on the struggling economy.

    At the relief camp at Mohammedpur, run by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Bangladesh Red Cross, some 50,000 people are crammed into a variety of ramshackle bamboo huts. Up to 70 people live in one small hut, sleeping on mud floors thinly covered with mats.

    Sanitation is primitive - open drains filled with stagnant water -- but epidemics have somehow been averted despite insufficient medicines. Malnutrition is widespread and evident in children, who run about the camps in rags or naked. Hardly any of the Biharis dare take a job for fear of reprisals for supporting Pakistan in the civil war.

    Many Biharis have managed to make their own way to Pakistan through Nepal, but this route was cut when the new repatriation agreement came into force, leaving many Biharis stranded halfway. The United Nations Commission for Refugees expect to work out some arrangement for them.

    But for the large number stranded in Bangladesh, the future remains grim.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVAD93JBZN0FN06BJ9UETX6LOAOR
    Media URN:
    VLVAD93JBZN0FN06BJ9UETX6LOAOR
    Group:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    15/10/1973
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:01:42:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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