AUGUST 21, 1948
HYDE PARK, Friday—I have before me an appeal from the mediator for Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte to our government. He says: "I am convinced that successful mediation can only continue if solutions can be found for most urgent aspects of great human disaster affecting 330,000 destitute Arab refugees from Jewish-controlled areas and 7,000 Jewish refugees." He does not say where the Jewish refugees come from, but I suppose they come from Arab-controlled areas. The conditions he describes are desperate and he says that thirty percent of these refugees are children under five years of age, and over ten percent are pregnant women and nursing mothers.
They are almost entirely without food and they lack medical care and medicines. They are living alongside roads, under trees, some without shelter and others with just burlap screens. At the moment the weather is warm and dry but by the middle of September the rains will come and it will be cold. Epidemics may start and thousands of children and women, who have no responsibility for the conditions existing in these areas, will die.
The appeal is made to the United States government to help as quickly as possible and the government has made arrangements to help to the best of its ability, but it probably can meet only about half of the immediate needs. Therefore it is asked that private organizations, church groups particularly, cooperate with the government by sending what they can through government channels immediately.
It is not just the refugees who will suffer but the people who are living in the areas where these people have taken temporary refuge. For instance, in one town and sixty villages which under normal conditions have a population of 60,000 people they now have 100,000 refugees. Obviously there is no way locally to care for them. Their present diet is a starvation one and diseases arising from malnutrition among infants and children are becoming more evident daily. The people who live in the area are suffering too, and at any moment their water supply, overtaxed by this influx of people, may disappear.
Any mediation between Arabs and Jews can hardly be carried on successfully with conditions such as these at hand, and those of us who hope for less bloodshed and more reasonableness in the settlement of the Palestine question, must, I think, beg all those who can do so to send what supplies they have on hand for the alleviation of this situation.