UNITED NATIONS, N. Y (Oct. 10)
Laurence Michelmore, the Commissioner-General who heads the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, submitted a report to the General Assembly stating that he believes that, today, more than 15 years since UNRWA was established, “the refugee problem has not grown any less complex or less dangerous to the peace and stability of the region.” His report showed also that:
1) The number of Arab refugees on the UNRWA rolls, registered for one or another form of relief, had grown in the last year by 34, 238, or 2.7 percent, reaching an all-time high of 1, 280, 823 persons;
2) Since its establishment in January of 1950, UNRWA had spent a total of $534, 397, 505, of which the United States alone had contributed $364, 468, 069;
3) The relief organization faces now for the first time the problem of extending aid to the “third generation” of refugees — the children of the Arab children of those who claimed refugee status in 1948, after the Arab exodus from Israel when the Jewish state fought its war of liberation;
4) Virtually no progress has been made in the efforts, under way for many years, to rid the UNRWA relief rolls of claimants deemed ineligible because the original claimant had died or other fraud;
5) The emotions of the refugees, who believed that their “nation has been obliterated” and their “population arbitrarily deprived of its birthright,” has, if anything, “increased with the additional focus for their feelings provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization which came into being in June, 1964.”
This was the first time UNRWA has officially taken note of the existence of the PLO which Israel had denounced here a number of times as an organization formed for the express purpose of using the refugee for warfare against Israel.
U. N. COMMISSIONER REQUESTS $38, 611, 000 FOR 1966 AID PROGRAM
The report, issued annually by UNRWA, and encompassing statistics up to June 30, 1965, also requested a budget for 1966 totaling $38, 611, 000. That figure compares with a budget for 1965 estimated at $37, 833, 000 and actual 1964 expenditures of $37, 193, 000.
Mr. Michelmore recommended that the Assembly extend UNRWA’s mandate “for a reasonably long period, such as five years.” The agency’s current mandate is due to expire June 30, 1966.
Israel’s Ambassador Michael S. Comay today held a conference with Mr. Michelmore to discuss the UNRWA report. The contents of their talk was not revealed. But Mr. Comay was believed to have taken up three points in the Michelmore report. These concerned the introduction, which reported blandly the political, anti-Israeli attitude of the refugees; Mr. Michelmore’s mention in the report that he intends to implement new definitions of what a “refugee” is for UNRWA purposes, thus opening the door to the granting of relief to categories not recognized now as entitled to relief; and his efforts for the rectification of the UNRWA relief rolls.
Mr. Michelmore is scheduled to deliver an oral address on the Arab refugee situation tomorrow before the Assembly’s Special Political Committee, the body which annually debates this issue. The debate on the refugees is expected to start late this week or early next week.