U.N. Commissioner Reports Arab Non-cooperation in Checking Refugees
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U.N. Commissioner Reports Arab Non-cooperation in Checking Refugees

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The head of the United Nations agency which provides aid to the Arab refugees in the areas adjacent to Israel told a General Assembly committee here yesterday that the “host governments” of those areas–Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon–will not cooperate with him in efforts to rid the relief rolls of fraudulent claimants unless certain terms are met by the agency.

Laurence Michelmore, Commissioner-General of the agency–the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees–declared that, in the last year, he had been able to remove from the relief rolls only one-half of one percent of the claimants. His annual report of UNRWA activities for the year ending last June 30, submitted last week, showed that the actual UNRWA registration roll had increased during the past year by 2,7 percent, growing to a total of 1,280,823 persons.

Appearing before the Assembly’s Special Political Committee for an oral statement supplementing his written report, he said that through the years “efforts have been made to rectify the ration rolls by identifying the names of ineligible persons and removing them from the lists.” He stated that he had worked out new proposals for putting those steps into effect.

“However,” he reported, “the host governments have indicated they would not wish to proceed with implementation of those proposals unless funds were assured to enable the UNRWA program to continue at existing levels, and to provide for future increased costs arising from the natural growth of the refugee population.” He had indicated previously that the “natural growth” of the refugee population embraces the “third generation” of children of the children born to these refugees who had originally left Israel territory in 1948.

Recommending that the Assembly give UNRWA a new mandate of five years for continuing its work beyond the present cutoff date of June 30, 1966, he said that, if enough money were provided to continue UNRWA services at its present level, “the host governments have confirmed that they, on their part, would take effective action in cooperating with the agency to ensure that the agency’s services were given only to refugees actually in need.”


The Special Political Committee decided today to open its annual debate of the Arab refugee problem on Friday. It listed Ambassador Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative here, as its first speaker. This will be the first time in 10 years that Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, will not participate in that debate. Having spent nearly three weeks here, she left for home last night, due to the urgency of other problems she must handle in Jerusalem.

One of those problems is the issue of the El Fatah sabotage gangs which had been infiltrating into Israel almost nightly, for weeks, blowing up water pumps and causing other heavy damage. Mr. Comay today discussed that situation with Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, U.N. undersecretary for Special-Political Affairs, continuing a discussion of that issue he held last week with Secretary-General U Thant and Dr. Bunche.

Ambassador Comay reiterated his Government’s grave view of the El Fatah depredations and its insistence that Jordan must be held responsible for sheltering the El Fatah saboteurs. The Israeli Ambassador acknowledged the fact that, last week, King Hussein of Jordan disassociated the Amman government from the El Fatah activities, but noted that Israel will judge Hussein’s statement by Jordan’s actions regarding El Fatah.

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