JERUSALEM (Aug. 26)
A dispute has developed between the Jordan Government and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, over possible changes in the issuance of UNRWA ration cards to Arab refugees, according to reports today in the Arab press.
Jordanian Premier Bahjat al Talhouni said in Amman that his Government would oppose any “compromise of the refugees’ rights.” He said that Dr. Seiffeddin al Kilani, Jordan’s representative on the Advisory Commission of UNRWA, was going to Beirut to attend a meeting of the group there tomorrow, of the committee.
The Jordanian Premier issued his warning in comment on a declaration attributed to Laurence Michelmore, UNRWA Commissioner-General. The latter was quoted as having said he would propose, in his report to the UN, the elimination of UNRWA ration cards.
UNRWA issued a statement at its headquarters in Beirut, criticizing “the unauthorized and misleading disclosure” of material attributed to Mr. Michelmore’s report. The agency said the report was still in the drafting stage, and had not yet been considered by the Advisory Committee.
The statement added that UNRWA “should not go on wasting funds on issuing rations to thousands of persons who were dead or absent,” and that the contemplated changes were aimed at taking rations “away from those who did not need them” so that they could be “given to those who did.”
Over the years since UNRWA started operating, in 1950, there have been constant complaints, especially by members of the American Congress, that there are many dead–estimated at about 50,000–listed among the UNRWA ration card holders. The United States pays 70 per cent of UNRWA’s annual costs.