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European Jewry Maps Plans to Aid the Boat People

July 18, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Executive Committee of the European Council of Jewish Community Services (ECJCS) issued an urgent plea to its member organizations, at a meeting here, to put their experience in refugee resettlement at the disposal of their respective governments willing to assist the boat people.

Fritz Hollander, of Stockholm, chairman of the ECJCS, declared that “All of us who survived the Nazi period must be stirred into action or else left with a feeling of impotence and despair by the great tragedy unfolding before our eyes. “Maurice Schamisso, of Antwerp, who heads the ECJCS social service committee, said there were agencies in a number of affiliated communities with experienced personnel who could be of valuable assistance in any resettlement scheme adopted by their governments.

Dr. Rene Weill, of Bern, noted that the Social Welfare Committee of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland has formed part of a consortium of eight voluntary agencies which has taken charge of the resettlement of 1700 Vietnamese refugees admitted last year and an additional 2000 being admitted this year. The agencies work in close cooperation with the Swiss government.

Weill said much credit for the success of the program could be attributed to the use of intensive training given the refugees in the languages and customs of Switzerland, a program modeled on Israel’s ulpanim used in the acculturation of immigrants from many countries.

A conference on the refugees, called by United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, will convene here July 20-21. The UN has invited 72 countries and 12 foreign ministers have indicated they would participated. Israel will be represented by its Minister of Absorption, David Levy, and the U.S. by either Vice President Walter Mondale or Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) has agreed to take in three refugee families as a first step to aid the Belgian government’s plan to admit 10,000. The JCC said its action was in memory of Jewish refugees seeking haven from the Nazis 40 years ago. “These tens of thousands of people are being expelled like we were at the time,” a spokesman for the Brussels community said. The JCC called on Belgian Jewish families to follow its example and adopt groups of refugees from Indochina.

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