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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4568


Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   Does the Government, regard the sustenance of the East Pakistani refugees presently in India as the primary responsibility of the (a) Indian Government, (b) Pakistan Government or (c) international community.

(2)   Can he say what proportion of the current cost of feeding and housing the East Pakistani refugees in India is currently being borne by (a), the Indian Government, (b) the Australian Government, (c) other Governments and (d) international organisations and charities.

(3)   What long-term strategy for the maintenance of the East Pakistani refugees does the Government support.

(4)   .What positive steps has the Government taken to encourage political conditions favourable to the return of the refugees to their homeland.


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   In my statement to the House on 27th October, 1 referred lo the fact thai the question of providing relief for the refugees has been recognised as an international one and noted that the Government acknowledges its obligation to make a significant contribution to the international effort.

(2)   The most recent information available to the Government Ls that the cost of refugee relief to the end of March 1972 is estimated to be $US700m. The Government of India has made budgetary provision for Rs2.6 billion ($US351m) up to the end of December 1971. The value of foreign assistance so far is estimated at $US235m of which $US187m has been pledged by governments and $US48m by non-governmental organisations. The Australian Government's pledges to the area total $A5.5m of which $4.5m is for the refugees in India. In addition, Australian volum try organisations have provided about $A2m for the refugees.

(3)   The Government supports the attainment of a political settlement which would enable the refugees lo return to their homeland.

(4)   The situation in East Pakistan is the primary responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. The Australian Government has been active, however, in confidential diplomatic exchanges directed towards reaching a political settlement







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