52 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram Austdel 96, PARIS, [20 October 1948], 3.30 p.m.

RELIEF FOR ARAB REFUGEES On the motion of the United Kingdom, the debate in the Third Committee on Human Rights was interrupted 20th October to hear a statement from Bunche[1] and Cilento[2] on the needs of Arab refugees now actually starving.

2. The Acting mediator stated that 30 million dollars would be needed for relief from December 1 1948 to August 30 1949 when the next harvest will be in. This comprised food 13 million dollars (mostly cereals and vegetable oil) clothing 7 million dollars, medical 3.6 million dollars, transport 5.5 million dollars. Number of refugees now estimated at 500,000 half in Arab Palestine, half shared evenly among Syria, Lebanon and TransJordan. No discussion as statement not listed on day's agenda. Committee will discuss 21st October when to take up debate on this item.

3. Bunche did not raise the question of resettlement because Bernadotte recommended repatriation to Israel. Hence 30 million dollars includes no contribution to permanent solution of problem. Cilento considers repatriation quite unrealistic. Probably an additional sum should be sought later for resettlement e.g., by clearing malaria out of lower Jordan valley.

4. British Commonwealth meeting discussed how to raise 30 million dollars. Americans cannot commit themselves to their share till after November 2 elections. British inclined to believe that United States cannot contribute till new Congress meets next spring. Hence United Kingdom is considering proposal that 7 million dollars should be advanced from United Nations working capital fund. They are also anxious to get 5 million dollars from I.C.E.F.[3] (see following telegram). It might be proposed that Assembly should ask all nations to contribute having in mind a scale like U.N. contribution scale. Administration would be by disaster relief project with help from specialised agencies.

[1] Ralph J. Bunche, United Nations Acting Mediator on Palestine.

[2] Sir Raphael Cilento, Director of United Nations relief programme.

[3] International Childrens Emergency Fund.

[AA: A 1838, 191/2/2, I]