The Jews of Morocco are living under “appalling conditions,” Dr. James Bernstein, executive director of the Hias-Ica Emigration Association, declared here upon his return from a two-week survey of his organization’s activities in North Africa.
Of the 65,000 Jews who live in Casablanca, Dr. Bernstein told the JTA, 35,000 reside in the congested Mellah quarter, of whom about 15,000 to 20,000 “live in indescribable misery under Buchenwald-like conditions of sanitation.” Families of twelve, he said, are jammed into single rooms, which are in many cases windowless. There is only one dispensary for children, and the single refugee doctor manning it sometimes treats 150 children in a single morning.
Similar conditions prevail among the Jews in most Morocean cities, the Hiasica director said, with a wealthy minority doing little to help the destitute majority. These conditions, he explained, are partly due to the fact that under the Vichy regime Jews were stripped of their businesses and to the acute housing shortage, but the chief reason is the backwardness of the Moroccan Jewish community, whose foremost need, he asserted, is education.
Both the native and the French authorities in Morocco have indicated a desire to be helpful, and have aided in solution of the refugee problem, Dr. Bernstein said. He disclosed that the Hias-Ica is arranging for the repatriation of the few Jewish refugees remaining in Casablanca and for 1,000 in Tangiers.
The situation in Algeria, he declared, is somewhat better. The UNRRA camp at Philippeville is being liquidated, and all its inmates are being transferred to Italy with the exception of those who may have a possibility of emigrating or returning to their homelands. These latter will remain in Algeria in the custody of the Hias-Ica until transportation can be secured for them.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.