Question of Palestine home
Department of Public Information (DPI)
1 October 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/322
1 October 1948
UN RELIEF SUPPLIES ON WAY TO PALESTINE REFUGEE CAMPS
(The following was received at UN Headquarters from the UN Press Officer in Haifa)
Arab refugee children will soon receive the first shipment of United Nations relief supplies as five trucks loaded with milk,, fat, sugar and meat left Beirut yesterday for four refugee camps in Lebanon.
Other shipments totalling about 240 tons will go shortly to children and nursing mothers in other Middle East refugee camps. These supplies have been contributed by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) which, responding to the late Mediator's appeal, has allocated $411,000 for a 60-day emergency program for children and nursing mothers among refugees of the Palestine war. An additional 600 tons of UNICEF supplies for that program is expected to arrive in Beirut within two weeks.
At the same time, 2500 tents, providing shelter for some 30,000 persons, are ready at Beirut headquarters of the United Nations disaster relief project. They will be picked up and distributed by Arab authorities.
These two events begin the phase of actual United Nations aid to approximately 360,000 refugees. Sir Raphael Cilento, Director of the relief project, emphasized the magnitude of the task at a staff conference in Beirut, in which he said that nearly half of the population in Palestine was claiming refugee relief. He said, "In a comparable situation in the United States, 100,000,000 destitute Americans would be relying on outside help".
Sir Raphael pointed out that the United Nations even at best can only contribute a small part of what was needed, while the main responsibility will rest upon the Arab governments. He also said that his present authority to organize relief expires at the end of 1948, while the extent of aid beyond that time depends on the General Assembly, which will also have to decide the fate of the refugees after the general settlement of the Palestine question.
For the present relief program, Sir Raphael considers the following problems the most important: (1) the earliest possible provision of 100,000 blankets to protect shelterless refugees when the cool, rainy period begins in October and November; (2) the provision of goods to make clothing for 200,000 people; (3) additional milk for babies and nursing mothers; (4) several thousand tons of cereals as supplementary food for adults; (5) the establishment of tent camps on suitable sites.
Concerning the fifth problem, Sir Raphael pointed out that his organization is ready to assist Arab governments in the selection and erection of camps, but the final responsibility for running the camps will rest exclusively with Arab authorities. In addition to the 2,500 tents ready for delivery to Arab refugees, the United Nations will put at the Arabs disposal 5,000 more tents within weeks thus providing basic shelter for 75 to 80,000 people.
Other relief goods expected to be available in Beirut shortly include 1,000 tons of wheat from Australia (the largest shipment thus far pledged by any country), 100 tons of cheese and powdered milk from Switzerland, and also food supplied by Burma, Italy, Holland, Indonesia, Norway, North Africa and the United States.
These good will be directed to two supply centers, one in Beirut for areas north of Jerusalem, and the other at the Suez for areas south of Jerusalem. According to the present schedule, 75 per cent of the goods will go to Beirut and 25 per cent to the Suez. A distributing center will be established in Beirut within the next few days.
Sir Raphael declared, "Despite those desperate efforts, thousands will die from cold, starvation and diseases. But other thousands will survive and some survivors will owe their lives to the United Nations."
* * *