December 8, 1949 Arab Refugees


The United Nations Palestine Conciliation CommissionThe Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC), appointed by the General Assembly on December 11th, 1948, decided in August 1949 to set up an “Economic Survey Mission for the Middle East” to make recommendations for facilitating the repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation to them, “in order to reintegrate the refugees into the economic life of the area on a self-sustaining basis within a minimum period of time.” Although the Mission eschewed “grandiose plans” and limited itself to modest programs which could be implemented within a relatively short time, its efforts were frustrated by Arab intransigence. In the end it confined itself to recommending a number of small scale employment projects designed to provide work for the refugees and promote the economic development of the area. Four pilot demonstration projects were proposed ― one each in Jordan, in Jordan-held Palestine, in the Lebanon and in Syria. The projected works included terracing of sloping land, afforestation of uncultivable soil, development of roads and the construction of irrigation and water conservation works. On the basis of these recommendations the UN General Assembly on December 8th, 1949, passed a resolution calling for “constructive measures to be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief”. A new body― the “UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East” (UNRWA) ― was set up to carry out the relief and works programme recommended by the Economic Survey Mission, in cooperation with the local Governments. An expenditure of $20 million for relief and $13 million for works programmes were approved for the year 1950 and a further $21 million for works programmes for the first six months of 1951. Unless the next General Assembly decided otherwise, direct relief was to be discontinued as from January 1st, 1951.

Source: Arab Refugees. (p. 15)

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