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Harry Truman Administration: Statement on the UN Economic Survey Mission to the Middle East

(December 30, 1949)

HAVING completed his task as Chairman of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission to the Middle East, Gordon R. Clapp, Chairman of the Board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, has called on me to discuss the results of his work in the Near East.

The mission, which was composed of experts from a number of member states of the United Nations, was created upon the recommendation of the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission. Its duties were to examine the economic situation arising from the recent hostilities in the Near East and to recommend means for overcoming economic dislocations, for reintegrating the refugees into the economic life of the area and for creating economic conditions conducive to the establishment of permanent peace.

When Mr. Clapp's appointment was announced by the Secretary General of the United Nations on August 26, I took the occasion to pledge the full support of this Government to the Economic Survey Mission as well as to other efforts by the United Nations to settle differences and achieve peace in the Near East. It seemed clear to me that such endeavors coincided precisely with our hopes that the governments and peoples of the Near East might soon be in position to devote the full measure of their abilities and resources to their economic and social betterment.

During the past 4 months, Mr. Clapp and his colleagues have conducted an intensive study of economic conditions in Palestine and neighboring countries. The recommendations which they have formulated are incorporated in two United Nations documents, the first an "Interim Report" submitted on November 18, and the second a final report which will shortly be released by the United Nations.

In its "Interim Report" the survey mission considered the tragic plight of some three quarters of a million refugees, rendered homeless by the Palestine conflict. That these destitute people are still alive today is credited largely to the efforts of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees, whose funds will be exhausted early in January. The Economic Survey Mission has recommended a renewed relief program including a public works program to provide the refugees with gainful employment and to permit them to be of greater service both to themselves and to the lands now giving them asylum.

Mr. Clapp has indicated that the second report of the Economic Survey Mission will deal with prospects for long-range development in the Near East. He believes that the potentialities of the region are great, but that it will be necessary to move slowly and carefully if the best results are to be achieved.

On December 8, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution based on the Interim Report of the Economic Survey Mission. It called for a United Nations refugee program terminating June 30, 1951, and involving the expenditure of $54,900,000, to be provided by international contribution. The unanimity of the vote was appropriate testimony to the success of the work done by the Mission as it was also unmistakable indorsement of the need for international assistance to the Palestine refugees.

In accord with my previously expressed intention to give careful consideration to such assistance as we might appropriately render in carrying out the recommendations of the survey mission, legislation is now in preparation for presentation to the Congress requesting authorization for this Government to assume its share in the cost of the program proposed by the United Nations for the Near East. The success of the program depends on a large measure of international cooperation, and I feel certain that other member states of the United Nations will assume their shares of this burden.

Mr. Clapp and his colleagues on the Economic Survey Mission have our thanks for the important public service which they have rendered.

Sources: Public Papers of the President