The number of refugees from Germany is likely to be substantially increased in the near future, High Commissioner James G. McDonald, League of Nations refugee head, declared yesterday on his arrival from Europe on the Italian liner Rex. The High Commissioner stated that the position of the refugees has improved to some extent in the last three months. He attributed the improvement to the “devoted efforts of Jewish and non-Jewish private organizations.”
BULK OF TASK AHEAD
He declared, however, that “the bulk of the task is still ahead of us,” pointing to the difficulties in the way of finding employment for the 40,000 refugees still waiting to be placed in new homes and occupations.
Mr. McDonald stressed the fact that the world economic crisis is making the work of the refugee commission difficult, but said steady progress in solving the problems of the refugees is being made.
The high commissioner, a resident of New York, has spent the last three months in a tour of European refugee centers, in official negotiations with various governments, and has delivered a comprehensive report of the activities of his office to the governing body of the refugee group. The body met in London with Lord Robert Cecil presiding.
After a short stay in the United States, during which he will visit Washington, Mr. McDonald will return to Europe to carry on his work.
STATEMENT TO REPORTERS
In a statement issued to ship news reporters, Mr. McDonald said:
“Now much better than when I returned three months ago, it is possible, thanks largely to the devoted efforts of the Jewish and non-Jewish private organizations, to record definite progress. But the bulk of our task is still ahead of us.
“The number of refugees outside of Germany is probably not less than 50,000 or 60,000, for the hundreds who have returned to Germany have been replaced by the constant additions of new exiles. Of this total of refugees, however, probably nearly 20,000 have been permanently settled in new homes 10,000 in Palestine and the others in different parts of the world. Unhappily there may be substantial new accretions to the refugees-not that there is likely to be another mass exodus comparable to that of a year ago, but even that tragic possibility can not be safely ignored.
“Immediately preceding the meetings of the Advisory Council and of the Governing Body of the High Commission in London three weeks ago, I completed a series of visits to the refugee centers in the countries bordering on Germany. In each of the capitals the local and national committees are doing their utmost to meet the day to day problem of providing food and shelter for the refugees, and where possible to aid them in finding work. Unfortunately in nearly all countries it is extremely difficult not only to find jobs, but even to secure permission to work.
PERMANENCE, MAIN PROBLEM
“Our major problem, therefore, remains now as it was at the beginning-to help the refugees to settle permanently in countries overseas. Under present circumstances, with unemployment universal and particularly in the light of the abnormally low prices for agricultural products, many of the so-called newer countries are less willing to open their doors than they otherwise would be. Some of these, however, are beginning to realize that many of the refugees bring with them not merely a willingness and capacity to work, but also technical skill and scientific knowledge of great potential value to their countries of adoption.”