DECEMBER 30, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—A letter came to me the other day from a gentleman in New Jersey who had read an article by a well-known political columnist in one of our large metropolitan newspapers. The major part of the article dealt with the fact that a recent survey showed that there are approximately 60,000,000 hungry children throughout the world. My correspondent was shocked and, like a good American, he wanted at once to do something about this situation.
The article explained that the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund had been able to help alleviate the needs of only about 10 percent of these children. UNICEF had also started a few other things that were pointing the way for certain types of medical care which are needed. This organization, however, was set up as a temporary organization to help the nations that had particularly bad conditions due to being ravaged during the war.
We have gone along for many years knowing the fact that in many parts of the world there are hungry children, even in our own country. And we have turned our backs on the uncomfortable facts, only being stirred to action by some particularly desperate situation that would bring money out of our pockets.
The United Nations had to become a reality before this problem could come before us as a world responsibility. Now we have world machinery that can be used first to investigate and then to cope on an ever-broadening scale with the situation.
The United States has been the largest contributor to UNICEF, but Congress says that as an emergency organization this agency should terminate its activities probably at the close of the next year, largely because the particular need it was set up to alleviate was over.
No one has said that the whole problem has been touched. In the United Nations this problem is understood to be a health problem in which the World Health Organization should be concerned; a food problem in which the Food and Agriculture specialized agency should be concerned; an educational problem in which UNESCO should carry its share of the burden; and an economic problem in which the whole system of distributions and payments has to be considered.
This is no small problem that can be alleviated by charity. It is one of the major economic and social difficulties of our day throughout the world. Every nation, as far as it is able, should correct its own difficulties. We, in the United States, are quite capable of seeing to it that no children starve in our country. If we do not accomplish this at home, it means not lack of means, but indifference and poor organization. There are many other countries, however, where all the United Nations services available will have to come to the aid of the available resources within the country.
No one dreams that the United Nations could turn its back upon this problem. The question before us is how the really great problem can begin to be handled. Surely, this must be done by a coordination of forces within the United Nations and not through an emergency organization.