EXCERPT FROM DRAFT REPORT OF UNRPR
“Certain problems will arise with regard to disposal of the finished article in bulk which may be by way of free distribution by UNRPR to the refugees within the programme, by local sales or by sale overseas. Local sales would probably raise a storm of objection from those normally employed in the locality, who would regard such production as being subsidised competition; overseas sale might produce difficulties over export licences and would, of course, require negotiation regarding imports, although this might be facilitated if the product could be used for relief or charitable purposes, i.e., by UNICEF, the International Red Cross or others.
“Initially this scheme would be most practicable in Camps, and might also develop into vocational training. The problem of the method of payment for refugee work remains to be settled; the present position in the Gaza trial of payment at rates approaching local ones whilst retaining refugee rations, is obviously not capable of a large scale general extension, although accommodation and medical care would clearly continue to be provided. It is believed that substantial volume of products could be obtained if authority were given to use a revolving fund of $200,000.”
MEMORANDUM OF PRINCIPLES GUIDING
THE RESETTLEMENT OF ARAB REFUGEES
With reference to para 4 of our letter of 24th July 1949, I am attaching hereto Memorandum on Principles guiding the resettlement of Arab Refugees.
Economically, its objective is to improve the methods of agriculture, by giving scientific and technical advice, by introducing new forms of agriculture, by encouraging intensive cultivation, as well as poultry and dairy farming; by organizing cooperatives for the purpose of purchasing and selling village produce. It also aims at creating and encouraging village crafts and industries, and in general at making the villages self-supporting.
Culturally, its object is to open schools for the children of the villagers and remove illiteracy by organizing adult education.
Socially, it offers them health services, with clinics and permanent resident nurses in village centers, and a visiting doctor once a week. Its aim is to see that villagers live in sanitary, and in all respects healthy habitations.
The society will get the villagers interested in cooperative work. It will work in the village with and through a duly elected village committee.
The society purchased large tracts of land in the plains of Palestine with a view to create thereon model villages. But these lands are no more in Arab hands.
Since the recent tragedy of Palestine and the plight of the refugees whose suffering is increasing daily, the society has decided to put all its capital and concentrate all its effort in a scheme for resettling a portion of these unfortunate people within the frontiers of Palestine.
It has asked the T.J. Government to allow it to enter into hitherto uncultivated and dead land belonging to the State, and to build model villages for the refugees. It asks for no title to these lands. It simply asks for permission to enter and make them cultivable, by procuring water for irrigation, machinery for agriculture, and to remain with the refugees a number of years offering them assistance and technical advice until they are able to stand on their feet alone. The refugees will then become either the tenants of the government, or will get full title to the land as may then be decided.
There are huge tracts of land belonging to the State on the western side of the Jordan. If the society were granted permission they could settle refugees at the rate of 25 dunums for each family of five persons.
In creating these model villages the society hopes to give an example of what can and should be done in this field. These villages would become a sort of an experimental station for the tremendous problem of settling the best part of a million homeless people.
Pending the grant of the authority to start these villages, the society is now engaged in opening schools in the camps of the refugees, and is also encouraging the creation of workshops to teach their children useful crafts.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan
Prime Minister’s Office No. 5/6/4935
The Council of Ministers, having studied in its meeting of the 22nd June 1949 a memorandum submitted by Musal bey Alami, chairman of the Arab Development Society of Palestine, requesting that permission be granted to the above-mentioned society to establish model villages on the unoccupied lands which lie on the western side of the Jordan River, with the object of resettling thereon a number of refugees, and supervising their economic, agricultural, social life and health, and occupying them with organized and productive, work, — has decided to allow the society to take possession free and without return, of the land lying between the Jordan River in the vicinity of Allenby Bridge up to kilometer 41 to the West, which is at area of about 20,000 dunums, for the purpose of reclaiming it and making it cultivable and establishing model villages for the settlement of refugees, on the following conditions:
1. That the society shall draw water from the Jordan River in sufficient quantities for the land, by means of powerful motors and pumps and pipes;
2. That the society cultivate this land by using up-to-date methods and machinery, and that this cultivation be of mixed farming, i.e, cereals, vegetables, fruit, dairy and poultry farming;
3. That the society introduce as far as possible small industries and handicraft, in order to provide work for all the settlers with a view to the full prosperity of the villages;
4. That it shall construct in these villages modern and sanitary dwellings;
5. That it shall open and run the necessary schools;
6. That it shall supervise the health conditions of the settlers and run permanent clinics;
7. That in the beginning it shall concentrate its efforts on the government lands in the Jericho area;
8. That the society will continue to hold these lands free and without return until a final settlement is reached regarding the status of the section of Palestine in which they lie, after which the land will either be leased to the society on a long term basis for a nominal rent, or will be finally transferred to the name of the society, as may be considered best;
9. This resolution will continue to operate and will be binding on the government as long as it is responsible for the administration of the section lying to the west of the Jordan.
Please take notice of this resolution and notify same to Musa bey Alami.
In this paper we are only dealing with the latter two aspects.
From our study of the situation and personal knowledge of the possibilities of development, we feel that it is possible to absorb at least (150) thousand refugees on the hills of Palestine still remaining in Arab hands, by creating a hundred or more new villages and by arranging for the existing towns to absorb a number amounting to 15 or 20% of their existing population. We feel that the creation of these new villages and the absorption of these number in the existing towns can be done smoothly and economically, without detriment to the existing population on one major condition: that the resettlement be based on the creation of small and light industries and crafts. A certain amount of dairy and poultry farming is also essential. The agricultural development of the hills by planting trees and vegetables should be for the use of the village themselves rather than with a view of obtaining an appreciable income; because of the unsatisfactory condition of hillsides for the purpose of agriculture, and of the limited area of uncultivated land still remaining in Arab hands.
But there is in Palestine an area where resettlement can be based on agriculture; and that is the area covering the plains of the Jordan Valley. The development of the plains on both sides of the Jordan should be considered first if a sound agricultural development scheme is contemplated.
On the western side of the river there are 250 thousand dunums mostly uncultivated because of lack of water. But there are at least 350 thousand dunums on the Eastern side which await development. They are either state domain or privately owned. But in both cases they are practically all left waste and uncultivated. A scheme to irrigate these lands and make then cultivable must depend on: (a) surface water, (b) underground waters and lastly (c) the Jordan water.
We estimate that when made cultivable and using modern methods of mixed farming, these lands by intensive cultivation and a certain amount of agricultural industry, could economically absorb about 200.000 persons. If small industries are created, they could absorb more. But all this requires a huge capital and will take a long time to be put into execution and completed. We therefore think that it would be best to embark on a small scheme in this area, which would have immediate results and would be a test case of what could be done there.
The Small Scheme
Roughly the idea is to irrigate about 150,000 dunums on the western side of the Jordan by building a small dam in the furthermost northern spot of the Jordan River in Arab hands, and to allow water to run from it in open canals and irrigate the lands southwards. This would require no heavy motors, pumps or pipes; and with the exception of iron and cement that is required for the building of this small dam, the expenses involved will be mainly wages for manual labour. If built in the summer months and up to a height of two meters below the banks of the river, the cost of this dam will be ridiculously cheap compared with the advantages that will accrue from it.
The advantages of a scheme which employs mostly manual labour are that it would employ thousands of refugees who prefer to earn their wages rather than be given half ration food from the international organisations. The scheme is economically sound beyond any doubt in view of the vast acreage of land which would be reclaimed and become suitable for intensive cultivation. It is also sound because it will absorb scores of thousands of refugees who will become independent and self-supporting and no more in need of international succour to feed them. It is practical because: (a) the lands which this water could irrigate are fertile and suitable for immediate cultivation, and (b) such irrigation scheme is technically easy because of the difference in level between the northern and the southern parts of the Jordan Valley. It is estimated that 10,000 families could live upon a scheme of this sort provided it provides for intensive mixed farming plus some agricultural industries and small handicrafts. It is estimated that the cost involved would be about 15,000,000 dollars. This will mean that the cost of settling a family, and offering it a home and means of livelihood for a tolerable standard of life will be about 1500 dollars.
Execution and Administration o the Scheme
Whatever may be the nature and scope of the development and settlement that is in mind, one important decision must at first be taken; and that is that this should be done by a development board entirely independent of Government. The most dangerous thing that could happen would be to entrust any of the Arab States with the task of resettling the refugees. They have neither the ability, imagination or knowledge of what should be done, nor have they the will nor even the desire to do it properly. Other reasons need not be mentioned in this paper. But an important political factor is that such development and settlement will take a number of years to absorb all the refugees. No government among then can hope to last for such a long duration. The inevitable result is that with the change of government there will be no continuity in the execution of the programme. In fact the likelihood is that each succeeding government will do all it can to alter or destroy the work of its predecessor.
Another factor is the psychological one; this will be discussed later. But in this connection it is important to note that any plan of resettlement, to expect and hope for success must depend on the amount of confidence that the refugees themselves have in the authorities that are executing it. No such confidence exists or is expected to exist in any of the present Arab Regimes.
In considering the small scheme, the proposal therefore is that a Central Development Board be created for the purpose of planning and executing the scheme. It could be called the Jordan Valley Development Board; and if it succeeds, it could expand into something larger to cover the entire plains on both sides of the Jordan. The Board should be entirely independent of all government routine and cabinet intervention; but must be given sufficient legal authority to enable it to act at once on matters concerning expropriation of land, alignment of roads, etc.. in fact something similar to the T.V.A. powers of action. It should be composed of Arabs from Palestine with experience and independence of mind and integrity, as well as technical and financial advisers from the West. It need hardly be stressed that a Board composed entirely of Europeans and Americans will not gain the confidence of the refugees; and one composed entirely of Arabs may not have the necessary scientific and technical requirements. This should be the first attempt at close co-operation between the East and the West on a level above the political.
The Psychological Aspect
In trying to resettle the refugees, one must bear in mind always that in the vast majority of cases, these people had their homes and belonging with lands to cultivate, and that they lived from time immemorial, from one generation to another, in the same surroundings and vicinity, among friends and relatives. Their attachment to the land is at least as strong as that of any peasant community. But there is a further attachment to the clan or tribe of family which is equally strong. In considering their resettlement, every attempt should be made to do so in places as near as possible to their original homes, as near in distance as well as in climate and surroundings. It is therefore essential to settle as many of them as possible within the frontiers of Palestine where they are likely to find relatives, friends and acquaintances, and where at least the atmosphere is what they have been used to, and the ways of living, and dialect of speech the same. When Palestine has been saturated to the full, then settle them in near and adjacent territories, but never try to resettle them far away when there is still room for one more person to be absorbed within Palestine. At the same time, in organising their resettlement, they should be so grouped that each unit would be composed of people from the same background.
It is safe to say that all the refugees, regardless of what they hoar and read about the difficulty of their return to their original homes, believe firmly and are convinced that sooner or later they will go back, and that their properties will be restored to them. The greatest tact therefore should be used in trying to induce them to settle down in any given spot other than their original homes. It has been proved, by experience, that when a chance if forthcoming for the refugees to find means of permanent settlement sufficiently attractive, they will of their own accord come forward and ask to take that chance to earn their living and leave the refugee camps. It is therefore suggested that if this scheme is put into effect and the possibilities of reclaiming waste but otherwise fertile lands become apparent, more applications will be made by refugees to be given a chance to live on the lands thus reclaimed than the scheme could in fact absorb.
The soil of this land has a high percentage of salt and requires a great deal of money and labour to make it economically cultivable.
The water problem is even more difficult. Subterranean water is available in this area, but at great depths, sometimes over 300 feet. It is not always sweet water. In fact only one well out of three has sweet water. Drawing water from the river is possible. But it is complicated by the fact that water has to be pumped up to a head of 300 feet and pushed to a distance of about 5 kilometers. The Jordan water at this spot has a certain amount of salinity.
In spite of all these difficulties the society is determined to put all its effort at reclaiming these lands and settling as many refugees as they can absorb.
The immediate requirements are high power motors and pumps to draw 100,000 cubic meters per day at a head of 300 feet and to a distance of 5 kilometers. It will have to lay about 20 kilometers of pipes of dimensions varying between 18 and 12 inches.
The area of the land being 20,000 dunums we would require at least three agricultural units, each comprising a complete set of agricultural machinery of all kinds.
Apart from all this the society will have to build, before the winter season, at least 500 houses, each comprising two rooms, a kitchen and lavatory.
For the purchase of the motors, pumps, pipes and tractors and other items, the society is prepared to spend LP 100,000 at once and another LP 100,000 in 1950. The hitch in all this programme of work is that the society has neither dollars nor sterling, while all the purchases have to be made either in England or the USA.
Once the currency is made available one or two members of the society will travel to England and American to complete the transactions.
A lot has been said about the future resettlement of the Arab refugees; but as yet nothing has been done towards that end, not even a general plan of resettlement has been put by UNO or any of the international organizations, nor by the Arab States.
The Arab Development Society has not only a plan, but is actually in the process of implementing it. It has more applicants to join the model villages which it is creating than it can cope with.
Hitherto it has met with no encouragement from any official body, let alone the formidable difficulties that are continually put in its way.
The Society feels that in this pioneering work which it is doing for the refugees, it has the right to claim from all the international bodies, as well as from all the States interested in this problem to help it to carry on this huge experiment, which is bound to affect the final decision of those who are now planning for the resettlement problem as a whole. It asks for no money; but it expects donations to be made in the nature of agricultural implements of all kinds of pumps and pipes and motors to lift the water from the Jordan, and any such implements and machinery which would help the resettlement of a thousand families, once the land has been rendered cultivable.
Amman, 27 July 1949
REPORT ON THE NEW JERICHO IRRIGATION SCHEME FOR DISPLACED REFUGEES
MUSA BEY ALAMI.
The scheme as appears will have to be divided into two:
A. The area between the Wadi Nuwei’ma and the Jericho-Allenby Bridge Road.
B. The area between the Wadi Qilt and the Jericho-Allenby Bridge Road.
(1) A tour was made around that area in the company of Mr. Halaby. A site was found to be most ideal for installing a pump and engine, and a line to run the pipe was chosen and pointed out to Mr. Halaby so as to assist the surveyor and work out the levelling of the line in question. I have recommended Mr. Tewfic Aranki of Tibeh to work on the job on monthly basis, but I understand that Mr. Najjar was chosen and I feel that the latter is better, he being a qualified engineer.
(2) The area to be irrigated was agreed upon to be 2500 dunums giving 5 m3/dunum/day, or a total of 12,500 m3/day. A pump working on 12 hr basis should supply 1000 m3/hour approximately.
(3) A design of the pump and the engine was made taking into consideration the following:
a- Head, including losses of pipe through friction and erosion was found to be 105.00 m. 18” pipes to be used.
b- Quantity of water to be pumped: 1000 m3/hour
c- An engine of 750 B.H.P. should be installed.
d- A 4 stage centrifugal pump is required.
e- A 750 B.H.P. should be working 12 hours a day, and also an additional 750 B.H.P. engine for emergency.
f- An alternative proposition is to have 3 engines each 375 B.H.P. so that two work at one time and one is kept to stand by for emergency. This, however, will be cheaper than getting 2 high power engines as in (e) above,
g- Types of engines recommended:
ENGLISH: “Ruston”, “National”, “Blackstone”, “Crossley”.
h- Good centrifugal pumps of 4 stage:
AMERICAN: “Fairbanks Morse”
ENGLISH: “Mother & Platt”, “Ruston”, “Lee Hole”.
I NOTE: It is very, very important to have slow speed engines working under temperature 50° C.
j- Cost of engines, pumps and installation:
This is a safe-side figure and may be relied on.
This lay-out of the village, I reckon, should be on the extreme east of the land since that area is rather undulated and not fit for irrigation, thus keeping all irrigable lands to the west. I understand from Mr. Halabr that a site south of the Jericho-Allenby Bridge Road starting from Km.41 was finally chosen by you. This, however, may still be good and a layout of the village is being started on that basis, and a sketch on the scheme will be given to you not later than 5th August, 1949.
Irrigable area may come to 15,000 dunums. 5m3/dunum/day a total of 75,000 m3/ day is required or 6,000 m3/hour approximately is required.
According to Scheme “A”, six stations may be required to be installed, but I reckon 4 may be enough on the assumption that the other two can be replaced by 4 deep boreholes (wells) — which works to be much cheaper for the purpose, and in this case the type of pump and engine required will be given later according to the discharge of the well.
The following is an estimate of the irrigation scheme of the big area “B”:
This big scheme can put under irrigation no less than 6-7 times the area of Jericho, and can maintain no less than ten times its population under normal conditions. From the estimate in question it is not much when one realizes that it approximately costs LP.17 to put each dunum under irrigation: a dunum of Jericho irrigated lands now costs between LP.100 to LP.150, or about seven times the above figure.
Gibbs “Economic Development of Syria”
COST OF WORKS
We have included the following table as a guide to the expenditure on capital works that may be anticipated in the next ten years. The estimates are necessarily very approximate and are based on present day costs. Furthermore, it should be noted that figures have been included for completed works, whereas, in practice, it may well be found that progress is slower than anticipated.
OUTLINE. OF RESETTLEMENT ESTIMATES AND
POSSIBILITIES IN SYRIA
(Sir Herbert Stewart)
Sir Herbert Stewart, the Agricultural Adviser to the British Middle East Office, has now prepared the estimates attached as Annex I of the numbers who might be resettled. These estimates vary from between 100,000 to 245,000 people according to the area assumed to be cultivable and the degree of mechanisation proposed. It is considered, however, that it would be unwise to plan on the basis of resettling more than 150,000 persons. One of the difficulties in making these estimates is that it is uncertain how much of the land shown as “cultivable waste” in the Syrian Government’s official statistics (see schedule attached as Annex II)has a high enough rate of rainfall to allow for settlement. A large part of the 1,796,000 acres shown as cultivable may lie in the low rainfall area.
Sir Herbert Stewart recommends that settlement in this area should be based on a combination of mechanised and animal agriculture. He points out, however, that it may prove impossible to buy sufficient ploughing animals for this purpose.
As a very rough guess the initial outlay involved in resettlement is estimated as follows:
It is considered that the first step should be for a technical commission to visit the Jezireh area and study conditions on the spot. The commission’s work might take six months. After that settlement might take up two years before completion although it might be possible to settle some parties before the commission completes its work. Settlement should start at the time of year when settlers will have time to shake down and get their first crop as soon as possible.
Other possibilities which require examinations are:
(a) Irrigation settlement on the Khabur river. Nothing certain is at present known about this.
(b) Employment of refugees on the construction of roads from Aleppo to the Jezira. These roads will be necessary if the Jezira area is to be opened up and might provide a valuable form of interior relief works.
(c) There appear to be possibilities of pump irrigation in the Valley of the Euphrates. There is more land than the present population can cope with, but no studies have yet been made of either the area or the irrigation facilities.
Settlement of Refugees in the Jezireh, Syria
40,000 (including dependents) might be absorbed within two years on irrigation and settlement projects which could be put in hand at once if funds were forthcoming; The cost of the projects is estimated at about £600,000. Additional small numbers might be employed on road construction
Only very small numbers could be absorbed at present. There is considerable unemployment in the country now.
Outline plans already exist for a major irrigation scheme in the Jordan Valley. It is estimated that this scheme if pressed ahead vigorously could provide settlement for about 100,000 people in four or five years time. In addition, there are possible long-term projects for road construction, port development, etc.. Finance would, however, have to be made available from outside sources. The total cost of the work was estimated in 1938, at £2,600,000 and would probably now be many times this figure.
We consider it very unlikely that any place could be found in the centre or the south. In any case the climate would probably be unsuitable for Palestinians. The only possibility which remains and which has not yet been explored, is that of settlement in the N.W. corner, adjoining the suggested area for settlement in the Syrian Jezireh.
There are estimated to be about 1 3/4 million acres of cultivable waste land in the Jezireh area in Syria, The land is rainfed and requires only men and machinery to get it into production. As a very rough estimate, this area might absorb 200,000 refugees. Its development, however, will depend largely on the development of road and rail communications, which is provided for the Syrian Government’s new Five-Year Plan. The Syrian Government will certainly require financial help from outside sources to carry out this Plan.
There is a considerable area of land between the Allenby bridge and the Damia bridge, north of Jericho, which might be cultivated if it is found possible to pump water from the valley of the Jordan. Proper studies are still wanted and they must include some kind of a soil survey of the area in question.
Termes de référence des comités techniques: estimation réfugiés; rapport de UNRPR; la réinstallation des réfugiés arabes; les régimes arabes de développement; développement économique syrien; estimations de réinstallation / Possibilités syriennes; organigramme - UNCCP - document de travail