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Deported Refugees Adapting Themselves to New Life in Mauritius

July 3, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The problem of sending aid to the 1,600 Jewish refugees deported from Palestine who are housed in the camp at Beau Bassin, in Mauritius, is receiving the attention of the leading South African Jewish organizations. The responsibility for organizing and coordinating this assistance has been accepted by the Council for Refugee Settlement in Johannesburg, and at a recent meeting a committee was set up which will co-opt representatives from all appropriate Jewish bodies.

The refugees, who hail for the most part from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Danzig, arrived in a pitiful plight, with hardly any personal effects, and they must have presented a difficult problem to the authorities of the Island.

Much progress, however, has been made. In respect to food and lodging, the refugees are simply but not uncomfortably cared for The authorities, from the Government down have been helpful. There is an unofficial visiting committee, with the island’s judge as its chairman. The Governor, Sir Bede Clifford, and his senior officials frequently visit the camp, while Lady Clifford and others have been working daily as nurses in the camp hospital. Generally, the local inhabitants have demonstrated their sympathy, and frequently in a practical manner.

Thus encouraged, the refugees have set about organizing themselves in the best way possible, bearing in mind that they must of necessity be detained for a very long time and that the island does not offer scope for remunerative employment, even if they were permitted to undertake such work. The refugees have appointed leaders and representatives who maintain close contact with the local authorities. The social and material amenities of the camp are being well organized, while, with the encouragement of the authorities, workshops are being opened in the camp.

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