Question of Palestine home
30 June 1954
SPECIAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR AND THE
ADVISORY COMMISSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE
REFUGEES IN THE NEAR EAST
OFFICIAL RECORDS: NINTH SESSION
SUPPLEMENT No. 17A (A/2717/Add.1)
New York, 1955
III. RELIEF PROGRAMME
A. Relief recipients................................ 2
B. Standard of relief services .................. 3
C. Cost of relief ................ 3
D. Responsibility for the administration of relief . 3
IV. FUTURE OF THE AGENCY............................... 3
V. RECOMMENDATIONS ................................... 4
Symbols of United Nations documents are composed of capital letters combined with figures. Mention of such a symbol indicates a reference to a United Nations document.
1. By resolution
, the General Assembly at its eighth session decided that the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East should be extended until 30 June 1955, and that its programme should be again subject to review at the ninth session of the Assembly. That resolution also authorized the Agency to adopt a provisional budget for relief of $18 million for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1955. It further stated that the rehabilitation fund previously authorized by the General Assembly should be maintained at $200 million until 30 June 1955, and urged the Agency and the Governments of the Near Eastern countries concerned to continue to seek acceptable projects to enable the fund to be utilized for the purposes for which it was intended.
2. Following the authorization granted by the General Assembly to the Advisory Commission in the above mentioned resolution to increase its membership by two additional members, Belgium and Lebanon were invited to be represented on the Commission. They accepted this invitation and representatives of those two countries were duly appointed and are now serving on the Commission.
3. The Director has submitted to the General Assembly the annual report of the Agency covering the period 1 July 1953 to 30 June 1954 (A/2717).
That report, in addition to containing information concerning developments during the past year, emphasizes the long-term nature of the refugee problem and suggests certain
particular matters for consideration by the Assembly.
4. It is the purpose of the present report to set forth conclusions and recommendations arrived at jointly by the Director and the Advisory Commission after consideration of the Director's report and other relevant material.
5. The Director and the Advisory Commission are obliged with regret to report that little progress has been achieved during the past year towards a basic settlement of the refugee problem. This continues to be a source of grave concern to the host countries, the contributing Governments and the Agency.
6. The Director, in paragraph 32 of his report, has indicated that a very important obstacle to a basic settlement is the absence of a solution along the lines of the General Assembly's resolutions regarding repatriation and compensation. The Agency, in conformity with paragraph 20 of General Assembly resolution
of 8 December 1949, has consulted with the representatives of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine with particular reference to paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution
of 11 December 1948. The Director and the Advisory Commission are not aware of any change in the negative attitude of the Israel Government towards the question of repatriation and have no information of any positive action on the part of that Government towards the settlement of the compensation issue. The Director and the Advisory Commission bring afresh this important aspect of the problem, as described above, to the attention of the General Assembly. It seems advisable, in the best interests of the refugees, that the Agency should continue to collaborate closely with the Conciliation Commission for Palestine concerning these questions.
7. Without prejudice to the rights of the refugees to repatriation or to the payment of compensation for the properties of those who do not choose to return to their homes, the aim of the programme endorsed by the General Assembly is to render the refugees economically independent either through development schemes or through self-supporting employment, with a consequential progressive decrease in relief services.
8. As regards large-scale development schemes, the situation is still substantially the same as it was a year ago, except that very considerable progress has been made with the surveys for the major projects currently under active consideration by the Agency, namely the Sinai and Yarmuk-Jordan Valley development projects. In the second of these, political as well as technical problems have yet to be solved before a tangible basis of agreement can be reached. The Director and the Advisory Commission hope that all concerned will make every effort to facilitate the achievement of these two important projects; and that, as a step towards this aim, the Governments of the host countries concerned and the Agency will continue their efforts to expedite the completion of the feasibility reports for the projects and, if they are considered feasible, to do all in their power to press forward with their development.
9. It is necessary, however, to face the fact that, even under the most favourable assumptions, it will be several years before the Sinai and Yarmuk-Jordan Valley projects can be brought to such a state of completion to render a substantial number of refugees self-supporting. No other major projects are now under consideration but, so far as development is concerned, there remain at present small-scale schemes in Jordan and Syria.
10. In the existing economic and political circumstances in the Near East, it appears that the rehabilitation in the host countries of all Palestine refugees remains extremely difficult. Further, as indicated in paragraphs 33 and 34 of the Director's report, the difficulties arising out of the refugees' attitude towards rehabilitation must be neither overlooked nor underestimated. It is therefore important that new efforts be made, both by the Governments concerned and by the Agency, to make clear to the refugees the fact that the Agency's programme, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, is designed for the benefit of the refugees without in any way prejudicing their rights, recognized in paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, to repatriation and compensation.
11. The Director and the Advisory Commission appreciate the great importance of a solution of the Palestine refugee problem to the stability, well-being and development of the host countries in particular and of the Near East in general. They feel it necessary to state the present position frankly, in order to bring about
a full realization of the effort required to çadvance a solution of the problem.
12. Under these circumstances, it is recognized that it is desirable for the Agency to continue its efforts to reach agreement with Governments in the area on new projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees. It is hoped that the necessary agreements will be promptly forthcoming. In such event, the Agency would of course take every measure within its competence to further the surveying and, if found feasible, the development of such projects.
13. In the light of past experience, and keeping in mind both the magnitude of the problem and the objectives of the programme endorsed by the General Assembly, it is believed that greater flexibility than now appears to exist should be authorized by the Assembly in the use of the $200 million rehabilitation fund. It is desirable that the Agency should be authorized to employ a portion of this fund for participation in general development programmes of the Governments of the area. It is believed that the Director should be authorized to participate, in consultation with the Advisory Commission, in such general development programmes, provided that in each case arrangements can be made with the Governments concerned to ensure that the number of refugees who will become self-supporting as a result of the total development programme in question will be broadly commensurate with the financial contribution of the Agency.
14. It is recognized that, if they are to be fully effective, development programmes of the nature suggested above will require substantial capital funds in addition to those that could be made available through the Agency. For Agency funds to be used most effectively, parallel and co-ordinated programmes, substantially financed through other than Agency sources, are essential.
15. Apart from the direct benefit which can be expected from development projects when completed, the constructional period of such projects ought to furnish employment for a substantial number of refugees. It is suggested, moreover, that every effort should be made to find in other directions also selfsupporting employment for the largest possible number of refugees.
16. In relation to this, note has been taken of the progress being made in the field of education and vocational training. Such programmes are considered an integral part of the Agency rehabilitation programme and must also be considered as such in connexion with the economic development of the area. The extension of education and, in particular, vocational training, will result in the new generation of refugees being better equipped to earn their living and become self-supporting. It is therefore hoped that work in these fields will be continued and expanded by the Agency. Its importance is underlined by the striking fact brought out in the Director's report that, out of the total number of refugees registered with the Agency, about half, amounting to approximately 432,000 persons, are under the age of fifteen.
17. The Agency's proposed plan of expenditure for 1954-1955 on rehabilitation projects and special activities, including education, appears reasonable, subject to the comments and qualifications contained in the foreword to the plan as submitted by the Agency.
III. RELIEF PROGRAMME
A. RELIEF RECIPIENTS
18. It is recognized by the Director and the Advisory Commission that relief among the Palestine refugees will continue to be necessary for some time, whatever efforts are made through development schemes to diminish its incidence.
19. The definition of a person eligible for relief, as used by the Agency for some years, is one "whose normal residence was Palestine for a minimum period of two years preceding the outbreak of the conflict in 1948 and who, as a result of this conflict, has lost both his home and means of livelihood".
20. This definition is applied by the Agency in assessing applications from the refugees who have not found a new means of livelihood or have not been re-integrated through the Agency's help. The Agency is in addition continuing, however, to provide partial relief services, originally made available by its predecessors, to a number of inhabitants of the frontier villages in Jordan who have lost their lands and means of livelihood but not their homes. There are still many other Palestinians in the same category who do not receive assistance from the Agency and who are in need.
21. There are also a substantial number of children of persons falling within the definition set forth in paragraph 19 above who do not receive rations at the present time. The Director and the Advisory Commission have expressed a desire to include these children among relief recipients. The granting of relief to these children will however require either (
) the deletion from the registration rolls of persons not entitled to relief, or (
) an increase in the budget for 1954-1955 submitted by the Agency, or (
) possibly a combination of both.
22. The Director and the Advisory Commission consider that a substantial and indispensable improvement should take place in the efficiency of the operation of the registration system through the joint efforts of the Governments of the host countries and the Agency, with a view to establishing the
recipients. The first result of such action would be to facilitate, if additional funds are not forthcoming, the granting of relief to those children who are at present not able to benefit therefrom.
B. STANDARD OF RELIEF SERVICES
23. With the exceptions noted in the following paragraphs, it is considered that the present standards of relief correspond as far as possible to the indispensable needs of the refugees under existing circumstances. In reaching this conclusion, the Director and the Advisory Commission have had in mind the practical limitation on the availability of funds.
24. It is agreed that consideration should be given to the desirability of increasing somewhat the supplementary feeding programme of the Agency in relation to diagnosed cases of under-nourishment, especially among children.
25. It is noted that all clothing distributions made by the Agency since its inception have been provided by the generous contributions of the voluntary agencies. This clothing has inevitably consisted for the most part of western-type garments. No provision has been made in this year's or in Agency budgets for clothing, except that the Agency pays the costs of transportation and distribution of clothing contributed by others. It is agreed that it would be desirable, if additional funds could be found or special arrangements could be made with the voluntary agencies, or otherwise, to extend the distribution of clothing furnished by the voluntary agencies and to supplement it with a distribution of cotton cloth, particularly for use in making children's garments. In this connexion, it has been agreed that special consideration will be given to the possibility of arranging for the production of such cloth in a factory in which refugees could be employed in its manufacture.
C. COST OF RELIEF
26. Taking into consideration the fact that the relief burden would doubtless be as great this year as last, since the progress in the rehabilitation programme hoped for by the General Assembly at its eighth session had not been realized, the Advisory Commission agreed with the Director that, pending action by the Assembly, relief services should be continued at the level envisaged in the Agency's proposed plan of expenditure for 1954-1955.
27. The Director has reviewed the budget, which was prepared some months ago, in the light of the more recent trends of prices and has advised the Commission that the original figure of $26,100,000 which appears in his annual report may be reduced to $25,100,000 (thus bringing the figure to approximately the same level as that approved for 1953-1954) without affecting the current standard of relief, and assuming that prices remain at approximately the present levels and that there is no great change in the number of refugees on relief. It is, of course, recognized that if there is any rise in prices or adjustments in the terms of reference of the Agency, additional funds will be required. The Advisory Commission regards this as a reasonable estimate.
28. The Advisory Commission has taken note of the point raised in the foreword of the Agency's plan of expenditure for 1954-1955 regarding the financing of the relief programme. Due to the fact that the General Assembly meets towards the end of the calendar year, whereas the Agency's fiscal year starts on 1 July of that year, it is necessary for the Agency, by some means, to provide funds for financing the relief expenditure between the beginning of its fiscal year and the time when the contributions of Governments are to hand, viz., several months after the General Assembly meets. In the past, the contributing Governments represented on the Advisory Commission have had no alternative but provisionally to authorize expenditure in anticipation of approval by the Assembly, thus enabling the Agency to continue operations. The funds have been obtained by temporarily borrowing from the rehabilitation fund. This will not be practicable indefinitely, for the rehabilitation fund will be committed or exhausted as soon as the work on major schemes is put into operation. Accordingly, it is recommended that the Director should be authorized to submit a provisional relief budget for each fiscal year to the Advisory Commission in the preceding January and that, after approval of this by the Commission, the contributing Governments should be invited to pay 50 per cent of the requested amount of contributions by the beginning of the relevant fiscal year.
D. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF RELIEF
29. In accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Commission made in October 1953, the Agency has continued negotiations with the Governments of the individual host countries concerning the desirability and practicability of transferring the administration of relief to those Governments at the earliest possible date. The Governments of the host countries have taken the position, however, that they are for various reasons not in a position to accept this responsibility at the present time.
30. The Director considers that, from a practical point of view, it would be feasible for the Governments of the host countries to take over this responsibility gradually, provided adequate financial and other assistance were given to them. Neither the Director nor the Commission consider themselves in a position at this time to make recommendations as to the timing of such a transfer or as to the amount or scope of assistance that would be required by the host Governments.
31. Concurring, however, with the view of the Director that the refugee problem is a longer-term one than previously anticipated, the Advisory Commission recommends that the Director should continue his negotiations with the Governments of the individual host countries with a view to exploring the possibility of the gradual transfer to them of the administration of relief, and should report to the General Assembly at its next session.
IV. FUTURE OF THE AGENCY
32. In conclusion, the Director and the Advisory Commission consider that the mission entrusted to the Agency in General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) and subsequent resolutions should be continued as effectively as possible and that the following tasks should be pursued:
In the field of rehabilitation:
a continuing long-term task which aims at assisting the refugees to become self-supporting in the various ways indicated in this report and which, in particular, leads the Agency to participate closely in the economic development of the host countries, thus making it possible for the refugees and the countries in which they live to benefit jointly by the combination of available rehabilitation funds and funds from other sources.
In the field of relief:
a temporary task, consisting in the provision of subsistence, medical care and shelter for the refugees. This task, on which $106 million have so far been spent by the Agency, should decrease progressively with the development of programmes designed to enable the refugees to become self-supporting.
33. The Director has stated that he does not consider it to be within his competence to make recommendations as to whether or not the Agency should be continued in existence beyond 30 June 1955. He is of the opinion, however, that if the General Assembly decides to continue the Agency's mandate beyond that date, it is
important that this extension should be for a reasonable number of years. Unless this is done, it will continue to be most difficult and in many cases impossible to retain and engage staff of the quality and type required for the efficient administration of the Agency. Furthermore, unless the extension is for a reasonable number of years, it will prove impossible to plan operations and activities on a basis of effectiveness and economy.
34. Consequently, the Advisory Commission considers, in order that the Director may organize the Agency's activities in a rational and economical manner and in the best interests of the refugees, that the Agency's mandate should be renewed for a period of several years. To this effect a period of five years would appear appropriate under the present circumstances.
The Director and the Advisory Commission invite the General Assembly to take action along the following lines:
) To recall its resolutions 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 (in particular paragraph 11 thereof), 302 (IV) of December 1949,
of 2 December 1950,
of 26 January 1952,
of 6 November 1952, and
of 27 November 1953.
) To take note of the long-term nature of the refugee problem and, accordingly, to extend the mandate of the Agency for five years, while recommending the continuation of negotiations with the Governments of the host countries with a view to examining the possibility of the gradual transfer to them of the administration of relief during this period.
) To take account of the relation to the Agency's task of the present position in regard to repatriation and compensation in the light of paragraph 6 of this report, and to invite the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine and the Agency to continue their consultations in the best interests of their respective tasks.
) To recommend that the Governments of the area and the Agency co-operate in the search for new projects capable of supporting substantial numbers of refugees, and in reaching agreement thereon.
) To maintain the $200 million rehabilitation fund approved by the General Assembly in paragraph 2 of resolution 513 (VI) and to authorize the Director, in consultation with the Advisory Commission, to employ a portion of it for participation in general economic development programmes of the Governments of the area in the manner set out in paragraph 13 of the present report.
) To recognize the particular importance, as an integral part of the rehabilitation programme, of education and vocational training, with a view to assisting the large refugee youth population to find suitable employment.
To take note of the facts set forth in paragraphs 19 to 25 of this report, concerning the categories of persons who do and persons who do not receive assistance from the Agency and concerning the standards of
) To approve a relief budget of $25,100,000 and a rehabilitation budget of $36,200,000 for the fiscal year ending 30 June 1955.
) To authorize the Director to submit a provisional budget for relief, to the Advisory Commission, in January of each year upon the approval of which by the Commission contributing Governments would be invited to make available at the beginning of the Agency's fiscal year.
(i.e., 1 July) at least 50 per cent of the amount they would be prepared to contribute to the relief programme of the Agency for the whole year.
) To invite the Negotiating Committee for Extra budgetary Funds to seek the funds required by the Agency as set forth in (
The Advisory Commission:
) Henry R. LABOUISSE
Henry INGRAND (F
F. SEYNAEVE (
Mahmoud RIAD (
Mohammad Adib EL AAMIR (
Hashemite Kin gdom of the Jordan
G. HAIMARI (
(Adib DAOUDY) (
J. C. STERNDALE BENNETT
(United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland
ohn D. TOMLINSON (
United States of America)
The representatives of Jordan and of Syria had not, as of the date of distribution of this special report, communicated the definitive approval of their Governments and, consequently, had not signed the report as of the date of distribution.
† The final text of this report was signed by Lt. Colonel S. Gohar on behalf of the Government of Egypt.
‡ Subsequent to the distribution of this report, it was made known that the representative of Syria was authorized by his Government to sign the report. The representative of Jordan was not authorized to sign the report as it stood.
The dates on which the various countries became members of the Advisory Commission are as follows:
France ........................... 8 December 1949
Turkey ........................... 8 December 1949
United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland............. 8 December 1949
United States of America.......... 8 December 1949
Syria ............................ 13 October 1952
Jordan ........................... 19 December 1952
Egypt ............................ 24 February 1953
Lebanon .......................... 29 December 1953
Belgium .......................... 12 February 1954
Official Records of the General Assembly, Ninth Session,
Supplement No. 17.