Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Refugees and Stateless Persons and Problems of Assistance to Refugees: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951

Executive Committee Meetings

Refugees and Stateless Persons and Problems of Assistance to Refugees: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951

1 January 1952
General Assembly Official Records: Sixth Session Supplement No. 19 (A/2011) Paris, 1952



1. In accordance with the terms of resolution 428 (V) of the General Assembly, under which I am called upon to submit annually a report to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council, I have the honour to submit the following report.1

2. At the outset I must explain that this report will necessarily be incomplete, for the reason that I assumed office only on 1 January 1951, and for the further reason that the requirements of the secretariat of the Economic and Social Council made it necessary to submit this report in June. It will therefore only cover a period of five months. I may have to make a supplementary oral statement to the Council.

3. In this report I shall endeavour not only to render some account of the activities of my office, but also to lay before the Council my appreciation of the tasks which lie before us in the execution of the mandate given by the General Assembly.


4. During the first few months my Office has been faced with all the difficulties which confront any new organization. Of necessity, much attention has had to be paid to matters of internal organization and administration. I should further explain that my election by the General Assembly on 14 December 1950 permitted me only to pay a short visit to Geneva in the beginning of January 1951 before returning to my country to wind up my own previous activities. It was therefore not possible for me to begin my work with the United Nations until several weeks after I had technically assumed office.

Deputy High Commissioner

5. In accordance with paragraph 14 of the Statute of my Office I have appointed as Deputy High Commissioner Mr. James Read, a citizen of the United States of America, who at the present time is Chief of the Educational Cultural Division of the Department of Public Information in the office of the United States High Commissioner in Germany. Mr. James Read will assume his functions on 1 July 1951.

Liaison with the International Refugee Organization

6. I should like to mention the arrangement which was made with IRO for the exercise of protection functions during the initial period in which IRO still disposed of its field offices while my own Office was only in. the process of formation and consequently had no representatives in the field. According to this arrangement the field missions of IRO still render protection to individual refugees, while problems of a general character are dealt with by my Office. This arrangement is essentially of a temporary character, and a more clear delineation of functions between IRO and my Office can only be achieved for any particular country when I know that the government concerned is willing to accept my representative. IRO has also agreed that its field offices should deal with requests emanating from my Office in matters which cannot be treated directly from Geneva if they are communicated through the appropriate channels of IRO.

Visits to governments

7. I consider as my first and foremost task to establish personal contacts with the governments of the countries in which considerable numbers of refugees reside, and to obtain first-hand knowledge of the problems of refugees by visiting the camps and localities in the areas where the largest numbers of refugees within my mandate are located. I have visited during this period the following States: the United States of America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Austria. In most of the countries I have visited I have discussed with the governments and the competent authorities the question of the establishment of a representative. So far, the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Italy have expressed their readiness in principle to receive a representative of my Office.

Liaison with the voluntary agencies

8. Among the tasks which are entrusted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, specific mention is made of contact with private organizations dealing with refugee questions and the facilitation of the co-ordination of the efforts of the private organizations concerned with the welfare of refugees. This I consider to be one of the most important functions. The great part played by the international and national voluntary agencies in helping to find solutions for the problems of refugees is well known. I am especially happy to know that most of the agencies which have already contributed so much are willing to continue their work on behalf of the refugees within the mandate of my Office. Through the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies, which includes many of the most important agencies working with IRO, I have already established contact with the agencies working in the field of refugees. I have also, in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Austria, met with the representatives of the various organizations working in the field, and have benefited considerably by their counsel.

Liaison with other international bodies

9. Close relations have been established with other international bodies working on programmes which have direct hearing on the refugee problem and my Office has been represented at the proceedings of the International Refugee Organization, the International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organization, the Council of Europe, the Commission on Human Rights and the International Law Commission, when matters affecting the interests of refugees have been discussed.

Conference of plenipotentiaries

10. By the time the Economic and Social Council considers the present report the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Convention on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons will have finished its work. I regard the early entry into force of this Convention as a matter of the utmost importance. This Convention should provide a charter of rights for refugees within my mandate, and I sincerely hope that all governments in whose territories there are refugees, will see their way to becoming parties to the Convention. For my part, I shall do everything possible to carry out the responsibilities with which I am charged under the present draft of the Convention. In my opinion, the Convention will provide an adequate status for very large numbers of refugees who do not as yet enjoy the benefits of any internationally recognized legal position. I sincerely trust that at the next session of the Council I shall be in a position to report that many countries have acceded to the Convention and thereby provided a firm foundation for the work of international protection.

Grant of the Rockefeller Foundation for a survey on refugees

11. I am happy to be able to inform the Council that the Board of the Rockefeller Foundation decided, in April, to grant a sum of up to $ 100,000, in order that an analytical and objective survey of the problems of refugees coming within the competence of my Office might be carried out. It is my hope that this survey, which will be carried out independently of my Office, will be able to provide the necessary material for a full assessment of all the problems involved in a permanent solution for the refugees. For this purpose, a group of investigators under Monsieur Jacques Vernant, Secretary-General of the French Centre d'études de politique étrangère, has been appointed. It will not, unfortunately, be possible to present a preliminary survey to the thirteenth session of the Council, but I hope that it will be ready for the next session of the General Assembly and will be of assistance to governments in framing their policies towards the refugee problem.2 The final survey will be completed by the end of May 1952.

Administration of funds

12. According to paragraph 10 of my Statute, I am called upon to make a report concerning the administration of any funds, public or private, which may have been received for assistance to refugees. During the period under review, no such funds have been given or offered to my Office.


13. While the present report on the activities of my Office during the first few months is necessarily a brief one, I feel that it should not end here. The period which has elapsed has enabled me and my collaborators to make some appraisal of the refugee situation and the tasks which confront my Office in the future. Although this appraisal cannot be fully substantiated at the present time, and will only be able to be completed after the survey mentioned in the first part of my report has been finished, nevertheless I am of the opinion that it may be of some assistance to governments if I were now to give my views.

14. At the present time the International Refugee Organization is nearing the end of its operations. I do not hesitate to express my admiration for what the member governments have been able to accomplish through IRO. The resettlement of about one million people by an international organization is without doubt an outstanding achievement. This has been made possible because through IRO the countries of first asylum for refugees have been associated with the countries of immigration in a unique effort of international co-operation towards a solution of the refugee problem. But IRO has itself reported to the General Assembly of the United Nations that, as a temporary organization, it was finding itself faced with a problem of a permanent character. The concentration of international attention on resettlement and migration has perhaps distracted attention from some of the more lasting aspects of the refugee problem.

15. It is inevitable that in the times in which we are living sooner or later we grow tired of a problem which we cannot solve speedily. In the present era, when new tensions that endanger the present and the future appear so rapidly, we have less desire to occupy ourselves with problems which result from the past. It has struck me that many of those who are confronted with the refugee problem are inclined to give up with the comforting thought that after the achievement of IRO, despite the warning of the organization itself, the problem has been more or less solved.

16. My first-hand contact of the realities of the situation in Central Europe has convinced me that this is a most serious misapprehension. The refugee problem has by no means been solved. If one bears in mind that in Western Germany, apart from the nine million expellees who are outside the mandate of the High Commissioner, there is a residual group of at least 100,000 displaced persons and refugees together with a further one and a half million refugees from the Eastern Zone of Germany, and that in Austria, in addition to the 25,000 displaced persons and refugees, there are within the mandate of the High Commissioner another 300,000 expellee, about 50,000 of whom are living in camps. If one realizes that in a country like France alone, owing to its generous policy of granting asylum, there are 300,000 refugees, and that in other European countries there are residual groups amounting to between 20,000 and 80,000, and that, further more, the assimilation of tens of thousands of refugees who have been transported to other countries has not yet reached its final stage, then one can hardly speak of a "solved problem". In saying this I am fully aware that the conditions of these refugees vary from country to country, and their degree of assimilation is different in each country.

17. When thinking of the problem of the residual a group of refugees in Germany and Austria, however, we should not forget that a very large proportion of the refugees have been living in camps often for a period of six years, since the end of the war. It should also be remembered that many of the inmates of these camps were forced to live in even more dreadful conditions during the war itself. The camps at best only meet a minimum of social and hygienic requirements. They offer little opportunity for full human existence. I wonder how many people realize that there is a new generation growing up in the camps. I have seen camps where three families are living in the same room with children born since the end of the war and who have no other experience of family life than in these terrible conditions. There are thousands of children in Europe between the ages of five and eleven who became refugees with their parents and who now, after living six years of camp life, are between the ages of eleven and seventeen and have usually not had the opportunity to learn any trade whatsoever. I am sure that if all those who are initially responsible for giving directives for the refugee problem of the United Nations had the opportunity to visit the camps them selves they would appreciate how very far from being solved the problem really is, and how difficult it is to solve.

18. Two further factors complicate this situation. In the first place, new refugees are constantly appearing in the countries of first asylum. The unrest which is prevalent in the world, the present international tensions, and the often extremely difficult conditions under which people and groups of people are living, lead to a continued increase in the number of refugees who seek asylum and create a problem which to a large extent lies within the competence of my Office.

19. Secondly, the residual groups of refugees who cannot be settled by IRO for the greater part fall into the category of difficult cases, who therefore need more care and have to be treated more or less on an individual basis. It is doubtful whether any extension of migration programmes would provide a solution for these persons who, as it has already been shown in the experience of IRO, do not satisfy the criteria of the countries of immigration. The only future for these people seems to be one of assimilation in the countries in which they now reside.

20. This situation leads to important conclusions as regards the discharge of the functions entrusted to my Office under its Statute. According to chapter I of the Statute, my Office is charged with the function of providing international protection for refugees and also seeking permanent solutions for the problems of refugees by assisting governments and, subject to the approval of the governments concerned, private organizations to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of such refugees or their assimilation within new national communities. I am fully aware of all the difficulties which work against the assimilation of those refugees who will not be resettled by IRO. For this reason, and for the sake of the newly arrived refugees, I would welcome any further international effort in the field of migration, but I would emphasize the necessity of an effective co-ordination between the activities of any agency engaged in migration operations and my Office. Although I have no direct mandate to engage in repatriation and resettlement without the approval of the General Assembly, I consider that it is my duty to look for any possibilities of voluntary repatriation or resettlement which would provide a solution for refugees within my mandate.

21. But if a substantial number of the refugees within my mandate cannot be voluntarily repatriated or resettled, then it seems to me that my chief task must be, in countries where this is feasible, to assist the local settlement of those refugees within the competence of my Office for whom there are no chances of resettlement, and to promote the complete assimilation of all those refugees who have been resettled.

22. The assimilation of refugees in countries of resettlement is generally a straightforward process. The immigrant refugee usually stands a fair chance of having a certain security regarding his future economic existence from the first day of his arrival. In general, the refugee immigrant will become eligible for naturalization within a relatively short space of time. The task of international protection in these countries is in my view chiefly to promote the naturalization of refugees and to give assistance in cases where refugees may encounter difficulties before they are naturalized. In some cases the difficulties for resettled refugees may be and are in fact still considerable. Far more serious, however, are the difficulties of refugees who do not qualify or who for other reasons have no chance of emigration.

23. The assimilation of refugees in countries of first asylum presents a series of grave problems. Whether or not a country becomes one of first asylum is a matter of political and geographical circumstances but in general the countries of first asylum are densely populated. Their governments are faced by contradictory exigencies. On the one hand, they want to comply with the principles of humanity and to accept refugees who for reasons of persecution or fear of persecution have crossed their borders; on the other hand, it is their duty to protect the security and economic interests of their own nationals, which may be prejudiced by too great an influx of refugees into their territory.

24. Several of the countries of first asylum are in fact the countries of residence of large groups of refugees and are in difficult conditions themselves. Since the end of the Second World War they have received considerable foreign economic aid in order to ensure their reconstruction and to make it possible for them to re-organize their own economic systems. The burden imposed upon them by the influx of large numbers of refugees is considerable, and it is more than doubtful whether these countries can carry out a policy of assimilation without a diversion of some of the economic and which is being given from other countries to the creation of housing and employment possibilities for refugees where none exist. The attitude of their peoples towards the assimilation of refugees is for more than one reason not always favourable. Fear of competition, unwillingness to accept foreigners in their midst, political considerations and unwillingness or inability to spend large sums of money on a programme of local settlement are the motives behind such an attitude, which usually reflects itself in the policy pursued by their governments towards refugees. For all these reasons the progress for a refugee to full assimilation, including the obtaining of citizenship, may be a long one, longer for one group than for another (e.g., longer for residual displaced persons in Austria than for Volksdeutsche) and longer for one individual than for another, as personal factors play a considerable part in the process of assimilation.

25. I believe that the assistance of the body entrusted with the international protection of refugees is necessary to help governments of the countries concerned to solve the difficult problem of assimilation. That problem, although certainly one of international protection, is more than legal protection in the limited sense of the term. It is my understanding of the mandate of my Office, in which I am charged with promoting, through special agreements with governments, the execution of any measures calculated to improve the situation of the refugees and to reduce the numbers requiring protection, that it is my duty to seek permanent solutions by promoting the assimilation of refugees within their new national communities. No permanent solutions can be reached if we are prepared only to face part of the problems of refugees. We must face their problems as a whole. I believe that the method and the energy with which the United Nations tackles the problem of refugees is of vital concern in the eyes of the world to its whole programme of human rights. This programme is inspired by the desire to protect the individual, and I am sure that, for many thousands of people, the sincerity of the United Nations in this field will be judged by its efficacy in protecting those persons who are deprived of the most fundamental of all protections, the protection of their countries of nationality namely the refugees.


26. Certain conclusions must, I submit, be drawn from this appreciation of the present state of the refugee problem which will affect the future structure of my Office. The experience gained by all those who have concerned themselves for the past years with the refugee problem leads to the conviction that it would be unrealistic to envisage merely a central organ in Geneva from which the international protection of refugees could be undertaken.

27. In the past, countries faced with the presence of large numbers of refugees in their territories have welcomed the representative of an international organization to assist them in solving the many difficult problems which arise. As I stated in the first part of the present report, a number of the governments which I have consulted as to the need for appointing representatives in their territories, have expressed their readiness to accept such a representative.

28. The short experience which I have had as High Commissioner for Refugees has already convinced me that the necessary tools for doing the job which has been entrusted to my Office by the General Assembly are a small team at Geneva of highly qualified collaborators devoted to the cause of refugees, and field offices, each of them small but efficient, through which I can maintain direct contact with the governments as well as with the refugees themselves and. also with the voluntary agencies working on their behalf.

29. The requirements of the international protection of refugees, in accordance with the terms of the Statute of my Office and the future tasks as I have outlined them in the second part of the present report, would call for the establishment of eleven field offices, some of which could cover several countries. It is my intention to submit to the General Assembly of the United Nations estimates based on these considerations.

30. In this connexion, I would point out that the General Assembly, in the budgetary estimates for my Office which it approved at its last session, made provision for the establishment of representatives in countries where there are considerable numbers of refugees. The cost of the establishment of these representatives will be included in the administrative expenditures relating to the functioning of my Office which, according to chapter III, paragraph 20 of the Statute, shall be borne on the budget of the United Nations.

31. At the present time I do not envisage that my Office will incur any expenditure other than these administrative expenditures. Such additional expenditure might, in my opinion, be incurred at a later date only by virtue of any additional activities which might be determined by the General Assembly in accordance with chapter II paragraph 9 of the Statute. Such expenditures would, in accordance with chapter III, paragraph 20 of the Statute, be financed by voluntary contributions unless the General Assembly gave its prior approval for an appeal to be made to governments or for a general appeal under chapter II, paragraph 10 of the Statute.

32. The budget which was given my Office for 1951 was based on a nine-month period of preparation, including the establishment of my Office. As I have tried to present to the Council, the situation for 1952 will be very different and require more adequate means to carry out the task.

33. Before concluding the present report, I should like to pay tribute to the members of the staff of my Office who have shown considerable ability under difficult circumstances and great devotion to the cause for which they are working.

34. I consider it a privilege to present the present report to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, which have, since the foundation of the United Nations, shown such a warm and keen interest in the tragic problem of the refugees. They have not hesitated to take action when action was necessary.

35. I feel that it is only right that I should present to you at this early stage what I consider to be an appreciation of the situation as it now is and the conclusions which seem to me to follow therefrom, for the fulfilment of the tasks which have been entrusted to my Office. I look forward with confidence to your active support to enable me to work effectively for a cause which I consider it a privilege to serve.


36. In June 1951, I had the honour to submit a report on the activities of my office during the first five months of its existence (see part I). Since that date, the most important event affecting the discharge of my functions has been the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees.

37. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 429 (V), of 14 December 1950, the Secretary - General invited the governments of Members and non members of the United Nations to send representatives to a Conference of Plenipotentiaries to complete the drafting, and to sign, a Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The Conference met in Geneva from 2 to 25 July 1951, and representatives of the following States attended:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, The Holy See, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland (also representing Liechtenstein), Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.

Observers were present from Cuba and Iran.

38. The Conference considered the draft Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which had been prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Refugees at its second session held in Geneva in August 1950, and also the recommendation relating to the definition of refugees to be covered by the Convention, which was contained in the annex to General Assembly resolution 429 (V). Full details concerning the background of the Conference, and the documents on which the Conference worked, are contained in the Final Act and Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (A/Conf. 2/108).

39. The three groups of refugees who are within the scope of the Convention are defined in article 1. They are: (a) persons who have been considered refugees prior to the Second World War; (b) persons considered to be refugees under the constitution of the International Refugee Organization; (c) persons who have become refugees as the result of events occurring before 1 January 1951. In connexion with this last category of refugees, it should be pointed out that the text submitted to the Conference did not specify that these events should have occurred in Europe. In this respect, the definition followed that included in the Statute of the High Commission's Office for Refugees. The Conference gave careful consideration to this question and finally decided to allow each Contracting State to make a declaration at the time of signature, ratification or accession, specifying whether it intends that the phrase "events occurring before 1 January 1951" should be under stood to mean either events occurring in Europe, or events occurring in Europe and elsewhere, before that date.

40. The Conference modified the terms of the annex to General Assembly resolution 429 (V) dealing with the question of refugees receiving protection or assistance from organs of the United Nations other than the High Commissioner's Office. According to those provisions persons at present receiving protection or assistance from other organs of the United Nations were to be excluded from the benefits of the Convention. The Statute of my Office, however, provides that persons who continue to receive such protection or assistance are to be excluded from my mandate. The Conference decided to bring the text of the definition in the Convention more into line with the pertinent clause in my Statute by adding the following sentence:

"When such protection or assistance has ceased, for any reason, without the position of such persons being definitively settled in accordance with the relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, these persons shall ipso facto be entitled to the benefit of this Convention."

41. It will be recalled that, under the Statute of my Office, I am entrusted with the duty of supervising the application of international conventions for the j protection of refugees within my mandate. This function of my office is recognized in article 35 of the Convention, whereby Contracting States undertake to co-operate with the High Commissioner's Office, or any other agency of the United Nations which may succeed it, particularly with regard to facilitating its task of supervising the application of the provisions of the Convention. Contracting States also undertake to provide the High Commissioner with information concerning the implementation of the Convention, the condition of refugees and the laws and regulations affecting refugees. In this connexion, I should point out that article 35 is one of the articles to which Contracting States may, under article 42 of the Convention, make reservations.

42. Up to the date of the present report, the Convention has been signed by the following fourteen States:

Switzerland and Liechtenstein
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Federal Government of Germany has indicated its intention of signing the Convention at an early date. The Convention will remain open for signature at the permanent Headquarters of the United Nations at New York from 17 September 1951 to 31 December 1952.

43. The Convention will come into force on the ninetieth day following the day of deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification or accession.

44. The work of bringing the Convention into being has been long. The results are not as generous for the refugees as some had hoped, but taken as a whole the Convention marks a real advance in the granting of human rights to refugees. It is to be hoped that a substantial number of States will accede to the Convention and thereby provide a firm foundation in international law for the rights of refugees.


45. During its fourth and fifth regular sessions, the General Assembly considered problems relating to future international action concerning refugees after the end of the operations of the International Refugee Organization. At its fifth session, the General Assembly (resolution 430 (V) of 14 December 1950), after noting that the International Refugee Organization would continue its operations, decided to postpone until its sixth session the examination of the problem of assistance to refugees "in the light of a further communication on the subject which the International Refugee Organization is invited to submit and of the observations which the High Commissioner will make in his report to the sixth session of the General Assembly".

46. The General Council of IRO has transmitted the above-mentioned communication (A/1948) after considering at its eighth session a report made by the Director-General on residual problems. My observations on these problems are presented directly to the General Assembly, as part III of my report, without having been submitted previously to the thirteenth session of the Economic and Social Council, together with the first two parts of the report. The reason for this is that at the time of the thirteenth session of the Council, IRO - ad not yet drawn up its communication to the General Assembly; moreover, I was not in a position, after only five months in office, to formulate any complete appreciation of the urgency of the problems of assistance to refugees which would remain after the close of the operations of IRO.

47. In its communication, the General Council of IRO emphasized the magnitude of the residual problems which will remain after the termination of its operations, and has pointed out that, "although the problems inherent in the situation as here set out are clearly not of sufficient magnitude to justify the maintenance of IRO, they are so grave in terms of human suffering that they call for urgent consideration by the United Nations".

48. The General Council of IRO came to this conclusion after very careful consideration and analysis of the problems raised in the report of the Director General, who had pointed out that:

"The whole nature of the refugee problem had undergone a radical change since IRO was established. Large numbers of the displaced persons who were uprooted during the war and immediately afterwards, turned out in fact to be political refugees. This determines the essential nature of the organization's plans and programme, dictating a shift in emphasis from repatriation to resettlement. As political tension increased, the displaced persons who became refugees because they refused to return home were joined in swelling numbers by those who fled from the same homelands and arrived as refugees in the areas of IRO operations. This exodus continues, and will continue as long as its causes persist".

49. In its memorandum of 20 October 1949, the General Council of IRO reported to the fourth session of the General Assembly that it was a "non-permanent organization, facing a problem which in certain aspects appears unfortunately to be of a permanent character". Despite two successive prolongations of its operations, IRO has now once more corroborated its earlier judgement and, despite its magnificent effort in resettling over a million refugees, has clearly pointed out that, in addition to the problems raised by the continuing influx of new refugees, there are a series of grave problems which must be faced in the areas in which refugees are resident and from which IRO has been unable to resettle them. It has reported that "certain refugees will remain in their present areas of residence, facing doubtful prospects of achieving assimilation or self-maintenance in the immediate future".

50. It has sometimes been maintained that a further effort in resettlement will provide the only permanent solution to the problems of the residual groups of refugees. In this connexion, I must emphasize that unless a new approach is made by countries of immigration to the problems of refugees there is very little chance that a continuation of international machinery for resettlement or migration can solve the problems of the residual groups of 1110 refugees. Most of these have been brought before the selection missions of countries of immigration and have been refused for a variety of reasons. There are, in. the camps of Germany, Austria and Italy, Greece and Trieste, many able-bodied refugees who, as individuals, might satisfy the criteria of the laws of the countries of immigration but who, when faced with the human problem of leaving behind one member of their family for reasons of sickness or age, have preferred to sacrifice their own individual future for the sake of their family. If a real contribution on these lines is to be made towards a solution of the residual problems of refugees, special measures must be taken to ensure that refugees most in need of help are not abandoned, while the young and able-bodied are given a chance of establishing their lives in new countries willing to receive them. It is certain that there are many migrants who can be more easily moved than the refugees, but in my opinion refugees should, by reason of their very helplessness, have special consideration in any new international effort to promote migration. Unless proper measures are taken to provide for a fair share of emigration opportunities for refugees, the outlook for them will be a grim one, as they will be, in competition with other candidates, in a category having the lowest priority.

51. In my opinion, the analysis made by IRO of the situation in the different countries where refugees are in difficult conditions, as well as my own survey of the refugee problem, lead to the conclusion that there are in any case two distinct problems which have to be faced. Firstly, an emergency relief problem affecting refugees in areas where political or economic conditions make it impossible for them to rely on public relief funds or to engage in any economic activity which will permit them to support themselves; and, secondly, a long-term problem connected with the assimilation of refugees in certain areas.

52. It has become quite clear that in certain areas the establishment of an adequate legal status for refugees will not enable them to secure the possibility of finding a modest livelihood for themselves and their families. Neither will a general improvement of the economic and social situation of such areas alleviate automatically the plight of such refugees, unless special measures of economic rehabilitation are envisaged on their behalf.

53. The emergency relief problem is undoubtedly most serious in the Far East where the situation of the 5,000 refugees in Shanghai and the 150 in Samar appears to be hopeless, unless some government is willing to accept full responsibility for the refugees, or alternatively unless a fund is available which will help to maintain them until a permanent solution is found. In addition to the refugees in the Far East, there are small numbers of refugees in the Near and Middle East, in Turkey, Spain and Portugal, together with the difficult cases in Trieste, whose survival will probably depend upon some continuing financial assistance after the end of IRO. In Greece, the very limited resources of the country, the difficult economic situation it has to face, together with the large number of refugees of Greek nationality or Greek ethnic origin, makes it very difficult for the Government to assist adequately the several thousand political refugees of foreign origin. In these areas, although the situation is not as desperate as in the Far East, and although a number of refugees can survive at a minimum standard of existence ' there will undoubtedly appear emergency cases who will from time to time require financial support from outside.

54. In Italy, the problems of the 24,000 refugees within the mandate of IRO is complicated by existing conditions of over-population and considerable unemployment. In view of these conditions, although it has accepted responsibility for the maintenance of 9,300 refugees within the mandate of IRO, the Italian Government has declared that it cannot offer permanent asylum or employment to all the refugees remaining in Italy. Moreover, it must he borne in mind that some 7,000 refugees will remain in the Free Territory of Trieste after IRO ceases operations. Of these, 900, including persons suffering from tuberculosis and other serious illness, present problems of continuing care. The refugees are housed and fed in military government camps and others are living in over crowded private houses. While the administration is in the hands of the Allied Military Authorities the expense of their care is borne by the Italian Govern ment.

55. Should any relief fund to provide for the needs of refugees be established, it could, in my opinion, administered by my office without any increase staff, on the lines proposed by the Secretary-General in his report to ' the fourth session of the General Assembly,5 on the understanding that any payments to refugees would, with the approval of the governments directly concerned, be made through the intermediary of voluntary agencies working on behalf of refugees.

56. As regards the long-term assimilation problem, which is particularly difficult in the main areas in Central Europe from which refugees have been resettled by IRO, it is clear that a definite programme will have to be initiated if the refugees within the mandate of IRO are to be absorbed in the local economies. The transfer in Central Europe of care and maintenance from IRO to the governments concerned, which took place in July 1950, was in the nature of an administrative transfer which provided no firm basis for the integration of refugees into the economic life of the countries. The situation of refugees remaining in Germany and Austria has been pointed out in the first part of my report. In Western Germany, the presence of large numbers of German refugees outside the mandate of my Office has inevitably rendered extremely difficult a solution of the economic problems facing the refugees who will not have been resettled by IRO. Furthermore, in my opinion the experience of the last three years has shown that an improvement in the economic conditions of a country does not bring about a corresponding increase in the welfare of the refugees, and it is idle to believe that any future economic improvement will automatically solve their problems.

57. In Germany, the Allied High Commission, in February 1950, requested the Federal Government of Germany to adopt a law defining the status of the displaced persons and refugees who would remain in Germany. This law adequately defines the political and civil rights of the refugees. However, there is as vet no firm basis for their economic integration. Further measures to achieve this will have to be taken.

58. In Austria, the future of the 25,000 refugees within the mandate of IRO is even more uncertain than that of the refugees who will remain in Germany. Although the Government of Austria signed the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the reservations which were made at the time of signature militate strongly against the economic integration of the refugees. Furthermore, the presence of nearly 300,000 Volksdeutsche refugees who now have inter national protection under the mandate of my Office, as well as a generally difficult economic situation, have rendered the assimilation of the residual group of refugees extremely problematical unless special measures are taken.

59. In Greece, the situation of the 4,500 refugees registered with IRO will continue to be extremely difficult as a result of the country's very limited resources and difficult economic situation, unless some plan for the economic reconstruction of the country takes special account of the needs of the refugees.

60. In all the above-mentioned countries, which are the main countries of residence of the residual group of IRO refugees, the problem is further complicated by the fresh influx of refugees, estimated by IRO to be between 1,000 and 1,500 a month, for some of whom supplementary assistance from the international community will surely be necessary.

61. I need not emphasize that the economic problems involved in the assimilation of refugees in Central Europe, Greece and Turkey far exceed the resources of the many international and national voluntary societies which have contributed so much towards the work done for refugees during the past few years. In this connexion, I consider it appropriate to draw attention to the statement made by the President of the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies working for Refugees, to the eighth session of the General Council of IRO, in which he said:

"There are certain basic needs of refugees that, by the limitation of our resources and the non-official nature of our constitutions, we cannot meet, and there are specific paces in the refugee picture, whether we like it or not, where we cannot be your residuary legatees. You have come near to solving the problem that you accepted as your defined responsibility, but you know as well as we do that, during the years you have necessarily taken to achieve this, a similar problem of at least equal proportions has developed - a problem for the solution of which no official action seems at present contemplated".

62. A number of the voluntary bodies have already worked for many years on behalf of refugees. They dispose of staffs of experienced and qualified workers in welfare activities, and have expressed repeatedly their willingness and keen desire to continue to help the refugees. However, the material resources at the disposal of voluntary bodies for refugee work will be substantially smaller than the resources now available to them under the IRO régime. In the first place, the important facilities which they enjoy in Germany and Austria under the occupation régime are likely to come to an end in the near future. In the second place, they will lose the substantial financial grants which IRO was able to make in order to secure their co-operation either in resettlement work or in respect of welfare work for residual groups. Such grants covered both items such as salaries, etc., which would be a normal charge on their administrative budget, as well as the financing of whole projects undertaken by them. Lastly, the funds which voluntary agencies are able to raise have themselves had a tendency to diminish as compared with the early post-war period.

63. The solution for the economic problems of the alien refugees in Central Europe and the Near East is, in my opinion, not in supplementary relief. In some areas where refugees still live in camp conditions a re-distribution of the refugee population is urgently required. This demands credit facilities for adequate housing, facilities for vocational re-training, and often the availability of loans under reasonable conditions to enable refugees to set up their own trade or business. In Germany, notably, there exists already a special division for refugees under my mandate of the German Expellee Bank, but its present working capital is inadequate to cope with actual needs. The establishment of a similar institution in Austria, which would cope both with the residuals hitherto under the IRO mandate and with the much larger group of Volksdeutsche who have been placed under the mandate of my Office, would meet a need which is felt acutely.

64. Where the necessary expansion of credit is beyond the economic capacity of the countries concerned, the United Nations should, in my opinion, either through its members who are most concerned with problems of economic reconstruction or through its own specialized agencies, provide the necessary economic support within the framework of existing arrangements, or alternatively through special loans on the lines of those provided by the League of Nations for the reconstruction of Austria and Hungary and for the settlement of Greek refugees in 1923.


65. The seriousness of the situation which faces refugees within the mandate of the International Refugee Organization who will not be resettled has been clearly outlined in the communication of the General Council of IRO. The basic facts analysed in this communication cannot be denied. The constant influx of new refugees into areas from which IRO has not been able to resettle all the refugees, coupled with the residual problems of refugees remaining in countries with their own refugee difficulties, presents an urgent problem which demands the attention of the United Nations.

66. This problem, although it is of considerable magnitude can, in my opinion, be solved if it is divided and tackled in its component parts. There are, in my opinion, three lines of action:

(1) In the first place, a limited relief fund should be established which would provide for the basic needs of certain refugee groups, such as those in the Far East and Middle East, whose conditions will be desperate after the cessation of IRO emergency relief. This fund should also be able to cope with temporary emergency situations which might arise from the influx of refugees in countries of first asylum, and could be administered by my Office. I therefore request that I be authorized by the General Assembly to undertake the necessary negotiations and appeals to raise voluntary contributions for it.

(2) In the second place, long-term plans should be made and methods evolved for financing and implementing economic reconstruction measures calculated to afford to residual groups in some areas possibilities of a normal livelihood. Accordingly, governments and appropriate specialized agencies should be urged to work out in close collaboration with my Office all suitable plans towards that end.

(3) Thirdly, that it would be desirable that those States willing to make a further international effort to promote migration should consider the possibility of taking the measures necessary to ensure that refugees within the mandate of my Office will receive a fair share in any opportunities for migration which will be provided.

1 Previously distributed as E/2036 of 27 June 1951.

2 The Refugee in the Post-War World: Preliminary Report of a Survey of the Refugee Problem (A/AC.36/6).

3 Previously distributed as E/2036/Add. 1 of 1 September 1951.

4 Previously distributed as E/2036/Add.2 of 13 November 1951.

5 See Official Records, of the General Assembly, Fourth Session, Third Committee, Annexes, documents A/C.3/527 and A/C.3/527/Corr.1.