APRIL 18, 1955
NEW YORK—I had the pleasure the other night of having the High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr. van Heuven Goedhart, dine with me and tell me a little about his hope for the new plan for refugees which the U. N. General Assembly decided on last October. A new fund is to be created to achieve permanent solution of the problem of certain refugees who fall within the High Commissioner's mandate. The High Commissioner already had a small fund for emergency assistance, and this new fund would be combined with that.
There are nearly a million refugees within the High Commissioner's mandate. These are largely in Europe, but of them only about 300,000 had not been assimilated by the end of 1954 into the countries in which they were living. The present program for permanent solution is designed to help this group. There are still 76,000 refugees in camps in Germany, Austria, Italy and Greece. Many of these have been in camps for at least 10 years. In many cases the difficulty is that some member or members of the family are ill and therefore the family has been unable to migrate.
The estimate is that at most 100,000 of these 300,000 refugees will be able, even in the next year, to migrate. Therefore it seems essential to settle these people in the country where they are, which means perhaps moving them to some place where they can find work and get settled. The hope is to find permanent solutions in the next few years, and the High Commissioner is asking for $16,000,000. This might seem a rather inadequate sum, for it will mean they may expect to spend over $400,000,000 in the first year alone; but had the Commissioner asked for more it might have frightened the nations! One million of this will be used for emergency assistance and the remainder for programs of integration. These will include vocational training, housing, loans to small business men to establish new business, loans to farmers to improve their land and to craftsmen to set up new industries.
The High Commissioner can prove because of the grants given him by the Ford Foundation that these particular lines of assistance have been successful.
The U. S. government supported this program for the first time in the General Assembly and agreed to ask for an appropriation from Congress. It is hoped that our Congress will realize this is the only way really to help these refugees, who are among the saddest groups of people in the world. We hope that if this program is successfully carried through it will end one of the Soviet Union's best arguments against the free nations for not returning all refugees to their countries of origin.
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 18, 1955
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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