16,000 North Africans Have Fled to France Since Six-day War, Face Serious Problems

Over 20,000 Jews have fled from North Africa since last June, with more than 16,000 of them finding a haven in France, the Joint Distribution Committee reported today. Mr. Samuel L. Haber, executive vice chairman of JDC, said in his semi-annual report to the board of directors that events in France, “where the new refugees have crowded into communities already swollen with refugees who came in prior waves, have worsened already difficult conditions.” Analyzing problems in France, Mr. Haber said that recent nationwide strikes have driven the cost of living up and thus will increase financial pressure on the French Jewish welfare organizations and on the JDC, which receives funds for its health and welfare programs from the United Jewish Appeal.

Mr. Haber’s report indicated that despite hardships, the North African refugees in France are better off than Jews who remained in the Arab countries since last June’s Six-Day War. In Egypt only a fraction of the former Jewish community remains, many of them still in jail, he said. In other Arab countries, “the plight of Jews, tragic even before the war, has worsened.” The Jewish community of Libya no longer exists, he indicated.

Mr. Haber reported on the expansion of JDC programs in Rumania during recent months. JDC will spend $1 million there this year. The program includes monthly cash grants for relief purposes, kosher kitchens, supplementary food packages, Passover relief, fuel and clothing distribution. In Israel, JDC programs are aiding over 90,000 men, women and children. Malben, the JDC health and welfare agency there, is aiding some 40,000 aged, sick and handicapped immigrants. JDC is also operating 118 yeshivot and ORT vocational schools in the Jewish State, Mr. Haber reported.

Dr. Frederick Tavill, former director of the JDC medical programs in Iran and Morocco, told the JDC board that “socially and health wise, the distance between the mahallehs and mellahs (ghettoes) of Iran and Morocco and the urban ghettoes and rural slums of this country is not so great as we might imagine.” Dr. Tavill said “it is ironic that while attempting to resolve the problems of poverty abroad, the United States has not faced up to this same problem in its own back yard.”

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