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Arabs Charged in Commons with Refusing to Solve Refugee Problem

A British Government spokesman said in the House of Commons today that he agreed with the charge by a Conservative Member that the continuing Arab refugee problem stemmed from Arab prejudice and propaganda against Israel.

The charge was made by Ronald Russell who asked the Government for the number of Arabs still classified as refugees, the total amount to be contributed to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for their aid, and what progress was being made in permanently settling them in their host countries.

Robert Mathew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said that the total number of Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA on December 31, 1963, the latest date for which figures were available, was 1,228,064 and of these 879,874 were receiving “full rations.” He said that about $32,500,000 had been pledged for the 1964 UNRWA budget which did not include non-governmental contributions valued, during 1963, at about $700,000.

Russell then commented that it was regrettable that after more than 15 years after the dispute there should be so many refugees in the Middle East and asked “Is it not entirely due to the prejudice among Arab countries and their stirring up propaganda against Israel?” The Under Secretary replied that “I am in agreement with what you say” and added that the British Government was doing “everything it could” to get some progress.

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