Algeria Issues Ultimatum to Refugees; May Take over Their Businesses

Thousands of Jewish refugees from Algeria, now in France, may be seriously affected by an ultimatum issued today by Algerian authorities warning all refugees to return in a month or face possible loss of their business enterprises.

The statement of the Algerian Provisional Executive said that, after that period, Algerian authorities would consider themselves “entitled to take all steps necessary” to make the enterprises operate again.

Belaid Abdessalem, the Executive’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs, told a press conference in Algeria that the measures would not “encroach” on the property rights of the refugees, however. He added that the measures would apply also to those Europeans who remained in Algeria but had closed their plants and shops.

It was learned in Paris that French officials approved the ultimatum after receiving assurances that the step would apply only to enterprises whose revival was important for the economic life of Algeria.

Official sources here sought to mitigate the unfavorable impression of the ultimatum on refugees who left businesses and property behind and who feel they cannot possibly return to the war-torn country. The sources said that provisional Algerian administrators would be named to run the suspended enterprises only if their owners fail to respond to the Algerian demand.

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