Six Nations Underwrite UN Aid to Europeans Stranded in Red-Held Shanghai
By Kathleen Teltach, for the New York Times
United Nations June 1953: A UN Agency has developed a novel cooperative visa plan to help stranded European refugees get out of Communist held Shanghai. The visa plan, explained here today, by Dr Van Heusen Goedhart, High Commissioner for Refugees, already has rescued 1,200 Europeans, and he hopes to get out many more. The Shanghai group, he said, has confronted the High Commissioner’s office with its “tickets” problem since it was set up in 1951 to take over activities of the liquidated International Refugee Organisation. The refugees include White Russians, living in exile since World War One, and Poles, Hungarians, and others who fled from Eastern Europe after World War Two. All arrangements to care for these people – including daily rations for 1,300 refugees – and to obtain visas for them, must be handled without contact with the Chinese Communist officials, Dr Van Heusen Goedhart said.
Diplomatic-level problems are negotiated through Indian officials at Peking. To move out the refugees from Hong Kong the High Commissioner explained, a government must agree to accept the refugees without examination and sight unseen.
To overcome the obvious reluctance of some states to open their doors to immigrants on this basis, six states have agreed to “underwrite” the needed visas. These six: Australia, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Switzerland – each have supplied ten blank visas to be used if the ‘host’ country decides after interviews with the would-be-migrant, to refuse entry. In 1952, 878 refugees were transferred from Shanghai on the alternate-visa plan and last April 300 more departed. In only three cases has the High Commissioner been compelled to use the alternate visa and the rest, still valid, can be used repeatedly. It would take 500 alternate visas, Dr Van Heusen Goedhart said, to evacuate the remaining refugees. Besides visas, the Commissioner needs funds since the present resources – supplied voluntarily by governments and in private agencies – will be exhausted by next January.
The activities of the High Commissioner’s office will come for review this fall before the General Assembly when it will be decided whether the office is to be continued. Two million persons are under its jurisdiction, half requiring help of some kind.