LONDON (Jul. 19)
President Roosevelt today extended to the directorate of the Intergovernmental Refugee Committee, which this afternoon opened a two-day plenary session here, to confer with him on the refugee problem at the White House during the first week of September.
The invitation was conveyed to the committee at its opening session by Myron C. Taylor, American vice-chairman. It includes Lord Winterton, chairman, Sir Herbert Emerson, director, and the five vice-chairman of the committee representing France, Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands and the United States.
Opening this afternoon’s meeting, held at the Foreign Office building, Lord Winter ton announced that the British Government stood ready to assist in defraying the expenses involved in overseas settlement of refugees provided other governments represented in the 32-power committee agreed to do likewise.
Lord Winterton said the British Government would take the initiative in proposing a scheme for that purpose. Representatives of other governments pointed out that the suggestion represented a departure from the decision taken at the organization conference at Evian, France, just a year ago, under which it was recommended that the governments of countries of refuge were not to participate financially in the settlement of refugees. They announced, however, that they would refer the matter to their respective governments for consideration.
Announcement of the British Government’s new stand on the question of financing refugee settlement overseas was presaged by a declaration in the House of Commons earlier by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Replying to a question by Laborite Arthur Greenwood, Mr. Chamberlain said the Government was giving most careful consideration to the serious situation in connection with the emigration and maintenance of refugees. He added that it was necessary to raise large sums for the emigration of refugees but that this was impossible for private organizations under the present circumstances. The statement was made in answer to a request by Mr. Greenwood that the Government reconsider the Evian committee’s recommendation that the governments of countries of refuge do not participate financially toward solution of the problem.
Prior to opening of the committee’s meeting this afternoon, Lord Winterton met a delegation from the Parliamentary Refugee Committee which has the support of 200 members of Parliament. The delegation stressed, and Lord Winterton voiced agreement, that governmental financial assistance was vital in carrying on refugee work. Lord Winterton pointed out that private relief organizations had accomplished much but the problem could no longer be coped with unless the British and other governments took a financial interest, He promised to convey the delegation’s views to the British Cabinet.
Afternoon newspapers supported the views expressed by Lord Winterton and the delegation, contending that private charity had accomplished wonders in the limited sphere but that the problem was too vast for individual generosity and required the financial participation of the cooperating governments.
Contrary to Lord Winterton’s attitude at the initial conference at Evian, France, last year, that the committee’ s scope should be limited to Germany, the Foreign Office is now pressing the committee to include discussion of the Polish emigration question. This is a result of the British-Polish alliance and the British Government’s promises to Polish Foreign Minister Josef Beck on his recent visit to London. It is doubtful, however, whether the intergovernmental committee will go further than including Polish and other deportees from Germany now in Poland within its scope. The main issue on which the Polish Government is insisting, is inclusion of Poland in any mass colonization scheme.
It was reliably learned, meanwhile, that for the time being only two of four refuge settlement schemes to be discussed by the committee have any practical value, namely, these involving the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. The remaining two projects, Northern Rhodesia and British Guiana, so far are not considered sufficiently fit for mass settlement.
It was learned in committee circles that the British Government will suggest limiting the British Guiana experiment to 500 refugees for the first year, while the findings with regard to Northern Rhodesia are such that interested organizations prefer them not published since the costs involved are higher than those estimated for British Guiana and other territories. A committee comprising representatives of various relief organizations intervened against the Colonial Office’s intention to publish the Rhodesian findings as a White Paper, contending that the high cost of the project might prejudice the possibility of settlement elsewhere. On the other hand, the intergovernmental committee is extremely hopeful with regard to the possibilities of Mindanao.