I am transmitting herewith for the consideration of
the Congress a draft of proposed legislation to enable the United States
to participate in and contribute to the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. This Agency has been
established by the General Assembly of the United Nations to deal with
the problems created by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of
persons as a result of the recent hostilities in Palestine.
The work of the Agency will be to carry out the recommendations
of the Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East, appointed by the
United Nations. This Survey Mission, under the Chairmanship of Gordon
Clapp, was directed by the United Nations to study the economic dislocation
created by the conflict in Palestine and to recommend measures to reintegrate
the Palestine refugees into the economic life of the area. Its recommendations
are an example of the kind of development and planning which is essential
to the economic growth and improvement of underdeveloped areas. The
Mission, in this survey, has taken into account the human and natural
resources of the region in which these refugees find themselves, and
has recommended a program of economic activity which will be of lasting
benefit to these areas and to the standard of living of peoples who
Our aid is needed to put this program into effect and
to help the Refugees and the inhabitants of these areas in the Middle
East to achieve greater productivity through the steps recommended in
the report of the Mission. In my inaugural address, I stressed the importance,
in the interests of our foreign policy, of economic development of underdeveloped
areas. In such a case as this, where relief for refugees is essential,
it is advantageous to combine the relief program, with the beginnings
of longer range economic development.
Point Four legislation and legislation for the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees are complementary.
There is no overlapping in the request for funds for the two programs.
The immediate reason for the establishment by the United
Nations of the Economic Survey Mission to the Middle East was the hope
that through an economic approach it might be possible to facilitate
a peace settlement between Israel and the neighboring Arab states. The
problems of Palestine and her neighbors are complicated by the continuing
plight of over three-quarters of a million persons who left their homes
during the conflict in Palestine, and are now refugees in the neighboring
lands. Homeless and without work, these people cannot care for themselves.
The nations now giving them asylum are themselves unable to care for
them. For some time to come they will remain dependent on others for
In response to an appeal from the General Assembly
of the United Nations for relief funds, made in December 1948, I recommended
to the Congress that the United States should bear up to one-half of
the cost of a relief program which was estimated to cost $32 million
for a nine month period. The Congress appropriated $16 million for this
purpose. Our contribution has been more than equalled by the contributions
of 32 other countries. The fund thus raised has been stretched to its
limits and is now exhausted.
The United Nations Economic Survey Mission has recommended
a combined relief and public works program, and has estimated the cost
of this program at $54,900,000 for an eighteen month period beginning
January 1, 1950.
This program is significant in its practical approach
to our objective of economic development in underdeveloped areas. The
areas in question have unrealized economic potentialities but require
technical assistance from abroad to assure their development. The projects
proposed will be complete in themselves, representing intensive development
in small areas, and have been so selected that they can be brought to
completion by the middle of 1951. They will result in lasting economic
In illustrating what can be done with limited resources
of soil and water by the application of modern engineering and agricultural
techniques, these projects should point the way to further development
not only in the countries where they are carried out, but in neighboring
countries as well. The successful completion of this program should
go far in furthering conditions of political and economic stability
in the Near East. At the same time the proposed program, while costing
little more than direct relief, looks to the end of the direct relief
program of the United Nations in the Near East, and to ultimate solution
of the refugee problem.
I believe that it is appropriate that the United States
should continue to bear onehalf the cost of this program. I, therefore,
recommend that the Congress authorize and appropriate $27,450,000 for
an eighteen month period. I trust that other nations which have contributed
to the program in the past will be equally generous in the future.
The importance of a substantial United States contribution
to this program is very real. Not only is it consistent with the humanitarian
spirit of the American people; it is also in our national interest to
help maintain peaceful and stable conditions in the Near East.
It is with these considerations in mind that I recommend
to the Congress the early enactment of legislation to enable the United
States to take its part in this program of the United Nations.
HARRY S. TRUMAN