U.N. Economic Survey Mission Submits First Interim Report on Middle East Findings

In its first interim report transmitted to the U.N. General Assembly today, the United Nations Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East urges the continuation of emergency relief for Arab refugees, a program of public works as an eventual substitute for direct relief and the establishment of a new U.N. agency to organize and direct the relief and works program.

The result of two months’ investigation in the Middle East by the Mission, headed by Gordon R. Clapp, the report declares that gainful employment can be found for all refugees willing and able to work. Such work relief can begin, the report adds, as soon as funds from external sources are made available to finance it and a directing agency set up to administer it.

The report recommends to the General Assembly that this works program be ready to take over by April 1, 1950, and continue to June 30, 1951. The new agency, it says, should have full autonomy and authority to work in cooperation with Middle Eastern governments, should be located in the Near East and should take over personnel assets of the present United Nations agency for Palestine relief.

ARAB-ISRAEL STALEMATE PRECLUDES EARLY REPATRIATION WORK, MISSION SAYS

Until next April, the report calls for continuation of emergency relief measures, although, it says, the extent of this direct relief should be “stringently cut” from the present 940,000 daily rations to 652,000, which the Mission regards as the number of refugees in need. It suggests complete cessation of rations by December, 1950. The cost of the entire 18 months program, including direct and work relief, it puts at $53,700,000, although it estimates that contributions from countries in which refugees are concentrated might reduce this sum to $48,000,000.

Declaring that “the continuing political stalemate between the Arab countries and Israel precludes early repatriation or large-scale resettlement,” the report points out that its recommendations “are intended to abate the emergency and reduce the refugee problem to limits within which Near Eastern governments can reasonably be expected to assume any remaining responsibility.”

Noting that Israel, with 48,000 refugees of whom 17,000 are Jews, has already begun to handle the problem of employment of refugees and is seeking outside assistance, the Mission in its report recommends that works projects in Arab countries center around the two biggest problems in the Middle East soil and water, and proposes small-scale, short-term projects in terracing sloping land, afforestation, road-building and irrigation.

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