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

Cablegram Austdel 169, PARIS, 4 November 1948, 12.10 a.m.


1. The United Kingdom draft resolution[1] and amendments thereto are still being considered in subcommittee and Committee 5.

2. Meanwhile the representative of the Secretary General has requested Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States to promise immediately for earliest practical delivery total of 3000 tons of flour or wheat equivalent of which Australian share would be 600 tons. This food is required urgently to cover period until general plan begins to operate about 1st January. Syria and Egypt have agreed to their stocks of wheat and of flour being drawn on provided promises are received for earliest replacement. Secretariat is convinced that only by this means can desperate plight of refugees be overcome. Childrens Fund allocations apply only to 50% of refugees and only small drawing is possible from working capital fund.

3. If subcommittee recommends target scale for general plan Australian share on UN admin scale or IRO operational scale would be about 2% or approximately Australian �200,000. Emergency request for 600 tons of flour is therefore well within such scale. We hear confidentially that the United Kingdom delegation is hoping to secure from the United Kingdom Treasury �1,000,000 for Palestinian relief.

4. If the whole matter has to be submitted to Cabinet you may wish to consider desirability of securing Cabinet approval of relief up to Aust.�200,000 or approximately 6000 tons of what or its flour equivalent. Such general decision need not be announced in Canberra or here until more is known regarding contributions from other countries but decision on broader question might avoid necessity for second reference to Cabinet. Relief authorities have indicated their view that best contribution Australia could make would be in wheat or flour equivalent.

5. In any event earliest possible decision regarding urgent request for 600 tons of flour would be appreciated. If we could announce such an Australian gift as soon as subcommittee reports effect would be to maintain Australian prestige regarding relief. If we could announce the larger contribution it would enable us to press for contributions from other countries.

6. We have been in touch with Trade Commissioner's Office Australia House regarding practical aspects of problem and understand he is telegraphing Commerce Department independently asking them to contact you for further information. You may wish to attach certain conditions to any such gift including guarantees necessary to avoid difficulties which we understand were experienced in connection with earlier gifts of wheat, butter and cheese. However it is understood that these are covered by agreement which Mediator now has with Arab countries and any additional conditions could be settled in discussion with him.

[1] A joint draft resolution submitted on 29 October to Third Committee by the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, and United States providing for assistance to Palestine refugees. It was considered in Subcommittee 2 and amended in Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) before submission to the General Assembly which adopted it as Resolution 212 (III) on 19 November 1948. It provided, amongst other things, for the appointment of a Director of United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees. See also the second paragraph of Document 69 for further details.

[AA : A1838, 191/2/2, I]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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