67. Memorandum From the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • Relief Assistance for East Pakistan Refugees

You will recall that your recent letter2 to Mrs. Gandhi included informing her that we would be providing an additional $15 million in relief assistance for the almost 4 million East Pakistanis who have so far fled to India. Now the paper work has caught up with this action and you are being asked by Secretary Rogers [Tab A]3 to sign the determination which would complete the legal requirements for transferring $5 million in Foreign Assistance funds to refugee relief so your decision can be implemented. The determination is to the effect that it is “important to the national interest” to use these funds this way. In view of our interest in alleviating the tensions caused by this large refugee problem, this is a reasonable finding. The Office of Management and Budget concurs [Tab A].4

State has also sent over a suggested White House press release [Tab B]5 although he does not indicate his thoughts on the desirability of making the announcement here rather than at the State Department. I understand, however, that the Department simply thought you might [Page 171] prefer to take full credit through a special White House announcement as has been done with other major relief programs. As I see it, from a strictly foreign policy point of view it does not really make much difference but, on balance, I would prefer letting State do it. This will be a complex and difficult program, and I think you should not dramatize White House responsibility for it now.

You may at this point be interested in a balance sheet of the major actions that have been taken so far on the relief and related problems.

In response to the situation in India:

  • —Of the initial $2.5 million in relief assistance to the refugees that you authorized, $1.5 million has gone to feeding programs by U.S. voluntary agencies and $500,000 has been contributed directly to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in meeting immediate needs for shelter, medical aid and other non-food supplies.
  • —Of the additional $15 million, $10 million will be devoted to satisfying about half of the estimated food needs for around 2.5 million refugees over the next three months. This will be coordinated through the UNHCR but administered through US voluntary agencies, international organizations, and Indian relief agencies.
  • —We have encouraged and supported U Thant and the UNHCR in internationalizing the refugee relief program.
  • —Informed the Indians that in response to their request through the UNHCR we are willing to provide four C–130s for the airlift of refugees from overcrowded border areas and to deliver relief supplies to the remaining refugees.
  • —Briefed the Indians on what we are doing to get relief operations started in East Pakistan and to encourage political accommodation.
  • —Urged the Indians to act with restraint toward Pakistan and have warned them against taking direct action against the source of the refugee problem.

With Pakistan we have:

  • —Encouraged acceptance of U Thantʼs representative as the coordinator of a large program of international relief assistance for the people of East Pakistan.
  • —Urged President Yahya to restore peaceful conditions in East Pakistan, to look into reports of actions against the Hindu minority and to encourage the return of refugees. He has made one statement guaranteeing safety for those non-criminals who return.
  • —Encouraged Yahya to create a political situation that will permit restoration of economic normality.
  • —Urged that the port and inland distribution facilities be repaired to permit distribution of relief and other commodities to the populace [Page 172] and to this end have arranged to send a US port specialist to East Pakistan to assist.
  • —Emphasized the need for maintaining restraint toward India.

Recommendation: 6

That you sign the determination [at brown signature tab] to transfer $5 million from Foreign Assistance Funds to use for refugee relief.7
That you approve announcement by the State Department.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 370, Subject Files, Presidential Determinations, 71–11–72–09/71. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Document 62.
  3. All brackets in the source text. Attached as Tab A but not printed was a May 29 memorandum from Rogers to Nixon.
  4. OMB Director George Shultz concurred in the attached but not printed June 2 memorandum to Nixon.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. Haig signed the approval option on Kissingerʼs behalf for the President and put a checkmark to approve the announcement by the Department of State. On June 8 the Department announced that the United States planned to allocate an additional $15 million for relief assistance to East Pakistani refugees in India. (Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1971, p. 823)
  7. On June 7 President Nixon signed Presidential Determination No. 71–15. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 370, Subject Files, Presidential Determinations, 71–11–72–09/71)