HC Deb 12 November 1952 vol 507 cc935-7
25. Mr. T. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what governments which voted for the partition of Palestine have not yet contributed to the Arab Refugee Fund; and how much Britain has given or promised to this fund since the refugees left their homes.

Mr. Nutting

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 21st May last. Of the Governments which voted in favour of partition and which I then listed as at no time having subscribed to the relief of Palestine refugees, Brazil and Haiti have now offered contributions for the period July, 1952, to June, 1953.

Since the refugees left their homes, Britain has given or offered a total of £13,100,000 to the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Captain Duncan

Will my hon. Friend take an early opportunity to make a further statement on the work done by the Refugees Commission in resettling these people, in view of the enormous sum of money that Britain has spent in dealing with this matter?

Mr. Nutting

There is a Question later on in the Order Paper and I should prefer to deal with this matter then.

31. Major Beamish

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress made by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine refugees; and the prospect of an early solution of this problem.

Mr. Nutting

The first year of the Agency's three-year programme ended on 30th June, 1952. The number of refugees receiving rations on that date was 881,673, which is only 318 less than on 1st July, 1951. During the year nearly 46,000 refugees had been removed from the ration lists for various reasons, including resettlement; but births and reinstatements almost entirely offset this reduction.

Since my statement on 25th June, the total number of those receiving rations has been reduced by 17,200. Of these, 1,160 have been directly settled by the Agency. A further 7,800 are expected to be settled shortly.

The results of the first year of the three-year programme have thus, I regret to say, disappointed expectations. Because of the slow progress in resettlement, the General Assembly has agreed to increase the amounts allotted for relief in the second year of the programme from 18 million dollars to 23 million dollars. The Agency's agreement with Jordan, under which 11 million dollars will be spent in settling some 25,000 refugees, is making some progress. Negotiations for a similar agreement with Syria are still being pursued. A study of the technical possibilities of developing the waters of the Yarmuk River in Jordon is being undertaken.

There are thus signs that the Agency's efforts to obtain the co-operation of Arab Governments in resettlement are beginning to bear fruit.

Major Beamish

Since such very little and such disappointing progress has been made during the last two years, as is shown by my hon. Friend's statement, is there not some new initiative which might be taken through the United Nations in order to try to solve this problem which is upsetting the security of the whole Middle East?

Mr. Nutting

The real problem is to get the co-operation of the Arab countries and that, I am glad to say, we appear at long last to be doing; but this is, of course, a very long-term problem.

Mr. Stokes

In view of the supplementary question and of the very considerable increase in the fortuitous oil revenues now falling to some of the Arab Governments, would Her Majesty's Government consider making representations to those Arab Governments that the relief of these poor Arabs, who are having such a terrible time, should become the first charge on those oil revenues?

Mr. Nutting

We will certainly take note of the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion and do everything possible in this matter.