Senate Body Endorses Johnson’s Proposals on Arab Refugee Problem

A report generally endorsing the proposals for repatriation or compensation of the Arab refugees, made by Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, as special representative of the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission, was presented to Congress today by the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees. The Johnson report was never submitted by the Palestine Conciliation Commission to the United Nations Assembly after it became known that the Arabs object to its recommendations.

The Senate Subcommittee’s report also noted that “religious and political persecution have generated a steady flow of Jews from North Africa.” Chairman Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat, did not go into details on the plight of North African Jewry, but did elaborate on the status of Arab refugees in countries surrounding Israel.

Citing “the growing weariness in many quarters over the seemingly endless custodial nature of the program of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the persistent intransigency of political forces in the Middle East, and the overall lack of progress in seeking a solution to this refugee problem,” Sen. Hart reported “the Subcommittee believes America has a responsibility in this situation.” He added that the Subcommittee noted “with great interest the Administration concern and initiative in this matter, and its general support of the diplomatic efforts by Dr. Johnson.”

According to Chairman Hart and the Subcommittee, Dr. Johnson “has authored a carefully conceived and detailed plan for progress which includes, among other things, a flexible provision to implement the 1948 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly calling for the repatriation of refugees or compensation for loss of property.”

The Senator added that “it is illusory to assume, however, that a solution to the Arab refugee problem can be manufactured and simply imposed upon the situation. In the final analysis, progress toward a solution must necessarily evolve from within the Middle East itself.” He expressed hope that “the Johnson effort and attending international relations” will help generate this progress. He stressed the importance of continued U. S. support for expanding services being handled by UNRWA.

“A budding aspect of this assistance is the growing stress on an educational and vocational training program for young refugees,” the Senator said, adding that a fact that made this program mandatory and indicated the changing nature of the Arab refugee problem was that half of the refugees were under 16 years old. “Channeling this youthful throng into useful pursuits, harnessed to the economic and social development of the entire area, should become the primary concern of UNRWA, its supporters and especially the governments of the Middle Eastern countries,” he stated.

The Subcommittee noted that 70 per cent of the UNRWA budget was contributed in funds and kind by the U. S. Government. The references to Jewish and Arab refugee situations were contained in a report on the worldwide problems connected with refugees and escapees.

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