Portugese Sailors Week As 50 Stagger off Refugee Ship
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Portugese Sailors Week As 50 Stagger off Refugee Ship

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The terrifying cruise of 50 refugees aboard the freighter Dora was at an end today following their debarkation from the “hell ship” in whose hold they had been virtually imprisoned since July 2 when the craft left the French port of Cette, near Bordeaux.

The sight of these refugees, emaciated from weeks of semi-starvation, staggering across the dock yesterday, was an unforgettable one for this correspondent and other persons who witnessed their landing. I saw Portuguese sailors weep unashamedly as the pitiful group of men, women and children, passed by, en route to the quarantine center at Caxias, near here.

The 2,000-ton Dora, flying the Panamanian flag, had been anchored at Lisbon for a month pending an investigation by the authorities, who refused to grant debarkation permits until today. The captain, a Greek gangster, had refused to proceed to Casablanca, French Morocco, when the refugees were unable to furnish additional fare he demanded. The captain formerly illicitly transported refugees to Tel Aviv and was known to have drowned a number of refugees refused entry to Palestine.

The refugees include a three-month old infant, twelve children under seven and 14 women . One woman was so ill from the ordeal that she had to be hospitalized immediately on landing. The refugees, most of whom are Jews from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, along with some White Russian emigres, will be cared for by the Portuguese Jewish Refugee Aid Committee. The refugees include the banker Haim Bernstein and members of his family and the Polish banker Sokolow, a resident of Belgium for 30 years.

Although the Dora was permitted to depart after the debarkation, the Jewish Refugee Aid Committee intends to prosecute the captain in Maritime Court. The Committee is now conferring with the police on plans to send the refugees to Australia or Shanghai via Portuguese South Africa aboard a Portuguese ship. Members of the Committee believe that such an arrangement will be carried out within a month.

Meanwhile, every possible aid is being given the charges of the Committee. After spending four days at quarantine, where their health papers will be inspected, they will be given the freedom of the country until the date of their departure. Seventeen of them landed without any baggage or money.

This was the first trip to Lisbon by the Greek captain, who recently shifted his “trade” to French Moroccan ports. He charged the refugees a total of 2,000,000 Belgian francs for the voyage, adding about $150 dollars for each day spent in port.

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