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3 Small Refugee Groups Set to Launch Experimental Project in French Guiana

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Sponsored by Colonial Minister Georges Mandel and financed partly by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and partly by the French Relief Committee, of which Baron Robert de Rothschild is chairman, the first group of Austrian and German Jewish refugees will leave for French Guiana on Feb. 2, to be followed later by other groups, it was announced today.

Opening of French Guiana to refugees is considered important in view of the British and Dutch opening their Guiana colonies to immigration and the French press, in praising M. Mandel, says the experiment of admitting pioneer groups may lead to fruitful developments. “Our Colonial Minister,” the Paris Soir writes, “may well put the date Feb. 2 on a special calendar. It may be the beginning of something important.”

The first group is composed of 12 refugees and includes chemists, agronomists, technicians and foresters. Warned of the climactic difficulties they would encounter, they replied: “The same is true of all underdeveloped territories. We intend to develop it and those who will die will be happy dying on free soil for a worthy cause.”

While M. Mandel so far has agreed to admit to Guiana three small pioneer groups of 12 persons each, the Colonial Ministry tonight said in a statement that if these groups adjust themselves successfully the doors will remain open to further immigration. “Admittance will be stopped,” the statement declared, “only if the present experiment proves undesirable.”

It is understood that the Joint Distribution Committee, together with the Rothschild committee, is assisting each pioneer with 10,000 francs. The second group will sail March 10 and the third April 10. Commenting on the experiment, French evening newspapers point out that French Guiana has fertile soil, rich forests and gold mines but was avoided in the past because France, until two years ago, made it a place for prisoners. Jewish circles are refraining from comment, except to point out that the experiment will decide the future.

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