HAMILTON, Bermuda (Apr. 19)
The Anglo-American conference on refugee problems opened here today with speeches by Dr. Harold W. Dodds, head of the American delegation, and Richard K. Law, head of the British delegation. Both reviewed the position of Nazi victims in Europe and declared that the solution of the refugee problem lies in an Allied victory.
The keynote speeches at the opening session of the conference this morning indicated that no plan will be considered by the delegates which can be construed in any way as tending to retard the war effort. Constructive proposals for the solution of the food and transportation problems of refugees will, it was indicated, encounter at many turns the objection that a “military area” is involved. This objection is most difficult to overcome and the term “military area” can be extremely elastic, covering not only territory at present construed as a military area but also territory likely to become such in the future.
The session today lasted for one hour. Delegates adjourned to spend the rest of the day in informal talks, marking time until the arrival of Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois, whose departure from the United States had been delayed by illness. “The problem is too great for a solution by the two governments here represented,” Dr. Dodds said in his address. “Our task will be to point the way and offer such definite proposals as may be possible under war conditions and in the light of what the war effort of the United Nations will permit.”
UNITED NATIONS MAY ORGANIZE SEPARATE COMMITTEE ON REFUGEE PROBLEM
Richard K. Law, speaking to correspondents, declared it was possible, as result of the Bermuda parley, that a United Nations’ committee would be set up to deal with refugee problems in addition to the already existing Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees, which had been established by the Evian Conference. He observed that the refugee problem is not only a Jewish problem and pointed out that the Bermuda conference will have to submit its conclusions to the U.S. and British Governments as a basis for future action by a United Nations body.
Osbert Peake, another British delegate, said that since 1940, when the British Government had assumed maintenance of refugees in Britain because Jewish relief committees there pleaded Iack of funds, his Government had spent about $6,000,000 on refugees. He added that it was most difficult to find sanctuaries in the British empire because the entire Mediterranean is an important military zone. The West Indies, he said, are overcrowded and face an acute feeding problem, while East Africa has already admitted three times the number of its white population.
Sir Bernard Reilly of the Colonial Office, a British expert with the delegation, said that British Guiana needed two years of preparatory construction to provide havens for refugees. He ruled out Madagascar, pointing out that French authorities had adjudged it unsuitable for large-scale colonization. Madagascar is now under British control. Sir Bernard added that there were no possibilities on Mauritius, where 1,600 Jewish refugees, deported from Palestine, are living. He said that Jamaica has not only 400 refugees, but also 1,500 English evacuees from Gibraltar, and provides no further possibilities.