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Department of Public Information (DPI)
16 August 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/247
16 August 1948
NOT FOR RELEASE BEFORE
3:00 PM (EDT) TODAY
MEDIATOR'S PLAN FOR AID TO PALESTINE REFUGEES
Acting under the powers given to him by the General Assembly, Count Folke Bernadotte, United Nations Mediator in Palestine is taking steps to meet the grave social and humanitarian problems of some 300,000 Arab and Jewish refugees resulting from the fighting in Palestine. The Mediator's plan has been presented to the Secretary-General for his consideration.
The relevant passages of the Assembly resolution read:
"The General Assembly ... empowers the United Nations mediator in Palestine;
To invite as seems to him advisable, with a view to the promotion of the welfare of the inhabitants of Palestine, the assistance and cooperation of the appropriate Specialized Agencies of the United Nations, such as the World Health Organization, of the International Red Cross, and of other governmental or non-governmental organizations of a humanitarian and non-political character;
Authorizes the Secretary-General to provide the Mediator with the necessary staff to assist him in carrying out (his) functions."
In addition, Count Bernadotte has received specific appeals for aid by Azzam Pasha, on behalf of the Arab League, and by M. Kahany, Representative of the Provisional Government of Israel.
Following the visit to Rhodes and tour of the affected areas by Sir Raphael Cilento, Director of the Division of Social Activities in the United Nations Secretariat, Count Bernadotte has now worked out a comprehensive plan in the following terms:
The supplies hitherto provided by the Governments directly concerned will very soon prove inadequate to meet the great needs. The Mediator has therefore solicited the help of other Member nations of the United Nations for adding to those supplies. He has further asked the World Health Organization, the International League of Red Cross Societies, and National Red Cross Societies for additional medical supplies; the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund for supplementary supplies for infants and children, nursing and pregnant women; and the Society of Friends for supplementary general supplies.
The World Health Organization and the International League of Red Cross Societies have already indicated their willingness to help. The International Children's Emergency Fund's Programme Committee worked out a draft plan at a meeting at Geneva last Saturday, subject to approval by the Fund's Executive Board next Tuesday.
The bulk of these supplies are to be distributed, as they are now, by a local organization in each country, composed of (a) a governmental group at cabinet level, (b) a group including Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Red Shield of David according to the country concerned and (c) voluntary organizations concerned with social welfare. In addition, the Mediator is prepared to maintain liaison in each of the countries concerned to work with the local organization and with such officers as the ICEF might send into the field. The Mediator will coordinate such supply and distribution services as are needed and available.
The nature and extend of the problem were outlined by Sir Raphael Cilento on his recent return to Geneva from Rhodes as follows:
There are altogether some 330,000 Palestinian refugees. Of these, 26,000 are on Jewish held soil, and of these latter, 6,000 to 7,000 are Jews. 64 per cent of the Arabs are bedded on a sharing basis, mostly in private houses, hutments and derelict and deserted shelters; 15 per cent are under tents -- either used military tents or camel's hair Bedouin tents; the remaining 21 per cent live in the open, mainly under trees.
At present, the governments concerned are making an effort to distribute, out of their stocks, 500 grammes of bread daily to each refugee, and also a small sum of money with which the refugees purchase mainly vegetables -- tomatoes, eggplant, and olives -- to supplement their diet.
There exists a serious threat of typhoid, typhus and relapsing fever epidemics among these disorganized masses of refugees. D.D.T. is desperately needed and innoculations are of urgent importance. Equipment sent by the International League of Red Cross Societies in May made it possible to give 21,000 innoculations in the Nablus -- Tulkarem -- Ramallah Triangle and other areas; an urgent call to the Egyptian Government on August 2 resulted in the immediate despatch of serum for 300,000 more innoculations. The aim is to innoculate every refugee two or three times before 15 October, when winter rain falls and cold will severely aggravate conditions.
Specific offers of help have been received from the British Government, the United Kingdom Representative to the Economic and Social Council having announced at the current session in Geneva that his Government were providing a sum of 100,000 pounds for Arab refugees. Religious organizations in Belgium have put the sum of one million Belgian francs at the disposal of the Nazareth Christian Arabs.
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