U. N. Council Gets British and Arab Proposals for Action on Refugee Question
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U. N. Council Gets British and Arab Proposals for Action on Refugee Question

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A suggestion that all governments who recognized Nansen passports for stateless people after World War I be urged to continue such recognition now, thereby enabling the United Nation’s International Relief Organization to issue identity papers to refugees so that they could travel to countries where they could obtain employment, was made at today’s session of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations by Philip Noel-Baker, representative of Great Britain.

The session, at which the Council began consideration of the question of refugees and displaced persons, also heard the following suggestions from the British representative:

1. Arrangements for the legal protection of refugees could immediately be made at little cost, on the pattern of the work of the High Commissioner of the League of Nations.

2. Distribution centers should be set up both in the countries where the refugees are now, and in those where they could be received. Here again, the pattern set up by Nansen might be followed.

3. Actual movement of refugees to countries of re-settlement might begin almost immediately with specialists, doctors, dentists, etc. Family units might follow shortly after.

The British representative expressed his preference for the re-settlement of refugees and displaced persons in small units, as against mass-resettlement. As to the funds for an immediate initiation of long-term solutions, he reminded the committee that not only has the Inter-governmental Committee for Refugees certain resources for re-settlement, but the UNRRA council authorized its administration in August to use certain funds for re-settlement, and not only for care and maintenance, as originally planned.

Nr. Noel-Baker expressed his conviction that if the nations of the earth rightly understood their own interests they could absorb all the refugees into new lives and new work in new lands.


Another proposal for immediate action was made by Dr. Alberto Arca Parro of Peru. Making himself the spokesman not only of his own country, but of other Latin-American nations with projects of economic development, Dr. Parro suggested that a census of the average age, professions, skills and intentions of prospective immigrants be taken forthwith. Insofar as such figures were not available, the statistical commission of the United Nations could immediately undertake this work in cooperation with the proposed interim commission.

On the basis of such a census, Dr. Parro said, absorption of refugees could take place in a much shorter time than appeared to be envisaged in the constitution of the proposed International Relief Organization. The Economic and Social Council, he said, must prove itself able to solve the refugee problem in its entirety within two or three years, or else it would forfeit its right to exist.

A proposal that the Economic and Social Council should immediately send a cable to all nations of the world to ascertain their attitude towards the reception of refu- gees and displaced persons was formally put forward by the delegate of Lebanon, Dr. Charles Malik, but voting on this suggestion was postponed.

Dr. Malik listed questions which should be asked of all countries in order to find out: 1. Which countries are willing to receive refugees; 2. How many refugees will they take; 3. What categories and what numbers in each category of refugee will they take; and 4. How soon can they receive their quotas.

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