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U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees Submits His First Report; Lauds Voluntary Agencies

The United Nations first High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr. G.J. van Heuven Goedhart of the Netherlands, turned in his first report to the U.N. Economic and Social Council today. Covering the five months since he took office in January, a period devoted chiefly to “internal organization and administration” and to making contacts in receiving countries, the report was mainly a preliminary survey of the task facing the new office, which is to take over the refugee problem from the International Refugee Organization.

As his first recommendation, Dr. van Heuven Goedhart requested a budget to establish eleven “small but efficient” field offices in receiving countries, in addition to his headquarters in Geneva. He said this was necessary to maintain direct contact with governments and voluntary agencies, as well as with the resettled refugees themselves. He also stressed the importance for his work of the coming into force of the convention for the protection of refugees, presently being drafted by a U.N. conference in Geneva.

The High Commissioner reported that no public or private funds had so far been offered to help finance the work of his office, but he paid high tribute to the voluntary agencies helping refugees and said that facilitating the operations of these agencies was one of his office’s most important functions.

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