My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Wednesday—The work of Committee 3 of the U.N. Assembly is ending today. We had our last full session on Monday and are meeting today to complete two items which were not finished, but which should take very little time. I wish to tell you about some of the subjects which have taken the most time and which will probably cause some discussion on the Assembly floor.

First in importance is the International Refugee Organization. This will take over the care of displaced persons in Europe and in China. It will continue the repatriation of all persons wishing to return to their countries of origin and, if possible, will resettle those who do not wish to return.

All that our committee has done is to write a charter for this organization and recommend it to the General Assembly. If the General Assembly accepts the charter, it will then be submitted to the various governments of the countries belonging to the United Nations.

They can then signify whether they wish to join this organization. As things now stand, if they join they bear a percentage of both the administrative and operating costs, as has been laid down by the committees working on financial matters. Subscriptions to the Resettlement Fund are on a voluntary basis from governments, organizations or individuals.

* * *

Our committee also passed an interim-organization plan which can begin to function if eight governments sign it. The IRO cannot function unless fifteen governments have signed and unless at least 75 percent of the budget has been subscribed. This means, of course, that many nations have to wait until the legislative branches of their governments, which control the purse strings, have acted. We ourselves are among that number.

The interim organization will be primarily a planning group, preparing for the taking over of the work which has been carried on by other organizations dealing with refugees and displaced persons. It may take over certain operational functions if the need arises, but I think most of us hope that the IRO will be operating before that need does arise.

Of course, for this to be a truly international organization, all the nations of the world, no matter how small their percentage of contribution, should be included. It would seem to me that all nations should recognize that this problem is of international importance. As long as displaced people remain in camps in Europe, they are deteriorating in their ability to return to normal, independent living.

It is to the interest of the world to return them as quickly as possible to their countries of origin, if they wish to return there; to urge the military organizations to continue their screening as rapidly as possible, so as to hand over to the proper authorities those who have been proved to be war criminals or traitors; and to resettle those people who either have no homes to which they care to return, or who have political differences with their countries of origin. Wherever they go, it is important that they be settled soon, so they can begin to work out their destinies and again be producers among their brother men.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL