HC Deb 05 December 1945 vol 416 cc2309-11
28. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the approximate number of personnel working for U.N.R.R.A. in Austria at the present time; what specific help they are rendering; what is the total amount of food and medical supplies delivered; whether there is any discrimination against anyone needing such help because of nationality or race; and whether such help is being rendered to Austrians urgently requiring food or medical necessities.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

The number of U.N.R.R.A. personnel at present working in Austria is something over 400. Their function is to assist the Allied military authorities in the care of displaced persons. Displaced persons, by virtue of Resolution 57 of the U.N.R.R.A. Council, include persons of any nationality who have been obliged to leave their homes because of their "race, religion or activities in favour of the United Nations." The supply of food and medical stores for these people is at present a responsibility of the military authorities. It is a fundamental principle of U.N.R.R.A. that its activities shall be carried on without discrimination because of race, creed or political belief. General relief is not at present being given to Austrians by U.N.R.R.A. because U.N.R.R.A. has not yet been invited to undertake relief operations for the people of Austria, but it has recently sent a technical mission to the country to examine and report on the problem.

Mr. Freeman

Cannot the Allied Council make application and take steps to see that the country gets the effective help of U.N.R.R.A.?

Mr. Bevin

I think it is dependent for the money upon certain votes in another country.

Mr. Warbey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a grave shortage of vitamins and other essential dietetic items in Vienna and other industrial towns of Austria, and will he, as a matter of urgency, instruct the British representative on the Allied Control Commission for Austria to press for a request to U.N.R.R.A. to go in and take responsibility for delivering supplies?

Mr. Bevin

The possibility of U.N.R.R.A. going into Austria and Italy largely depends upon the voting of the money. We have decided to invite them to take it on, but U.N.R.R.A. will reach its limit of responsibilities. We in this House have agreed to pay a further 1 per cent.

Mr. Freeman

Am I right in assuming that they are not discriminating and are not giving effective help to the residents of Austria only as against those of other countries?

Mr. Bevin

The U.N.R.R.A. Council decided to undertake Austria and Italy, but they must have facilities. We do not want Austria to fall between two stools; we want Austria to go on receiving the military supplies until U.N.R.R.A. is put in a position to carry out its task.

Mr. Pickthorn

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what reports he has heard about the distribution of U.N.R.R.A. supplies without reference to racial or political discrimination, in various countries, particularly Yugoslavia?

Mr. Bevin

I must have notice of that question.

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