The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

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My dear Mrs Roosevelt:

I have your letter of February 14, 1952 from Damascus with which was enclosed a letter from a group of European refugees formerly under the care of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in Syria and Lebanon. These refugees are seeking assistance from some source to replace that formerly given them by IRO. Their letter to you is returned herewith.

There were approximately 250 refugees registered with IRO in Syria, Lebanon and the adjacent countries when IRO terminated its activities in that area. This residual group consists of persons who could not meet the selection criteria of the three resettlement countries which sent selection missions there. It is therefore unlikely that more than a small percentage of them can be resettled in the future under the current standards and procedures of immigration countries. Although IRO made satisfactory local arrangements for refugees in need of permanent institutional care, it did not have resources to assist others beyond the date of its termination.

A voluntary committee under the President of the Lebanese Red Cross has been established to assist in improving living conditions of these refugees and to promote their integration into the local community. At its final meeting in Geneva in February 1952, the General Council of IRO instructed its Liquidator to extend further assistance to committees of this type in outlying areas from assets which may accrue. In the event that some members of this group of refugees are able to obtain immigration visas, the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME) may be able to provide free transportation for their resettlement abroad.

The Department has been aware of the difficult conditions faced by groups of refugees in outlying areas and will continue to do what it can to ameliorate their situations.

Sincerely yours,

George L. Warren

Adviser on Refugees and Displaced Persons

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