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Annual Report of the Director of UNRWA to the United Nations General Assembly

A/1905, (October 1951)

In this report, the Director, John Blandford, Jr., dealt with the number of the refugees, their present condition and prospects. Excerpts:

(a) Number of refugees

16. One of the first tasks undertaken by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was to organize a census operation to determine who should and who should not receive relief. In spite of these efforts, which lasted for approximately one year and cost the Agency $295,639, it is still not possible to give an absolute figure of the true number of refugees as understood by the working definition of "a person normally resident in Palestine who has lost his home and his livelihood as a result of the hostilities and who is in need". If the object had been to establish the true number of Palestinians now in other countries, the results of the census would have been more accurate; but the Agency's mandate was expressly limited to those "in need", and not only is the dividing line between pauperism and self-sufficiency extremely small and the truth hard to ascertain, but a family who has work today in porterage or harvesting may genuinely need relief tomorrow. Thus, it has been the practice to readmit to the relief rolls refugees who become unemployed. A further difficulty is that, whereas all births are eagerly announced, the deaths wherever possible are passed over in silence, and as the birthrate is high in any case, a net addition of 30,000 names a year is made to the relief rolls. In spite of this, a considerable reduction has been achieved and many false and duplicate registrations weeded out. By June 195 1, there were 876,000 persons registered on UNWRAPRNE relief rolls compared with 957,000 when the Agency took over. They were distributed as follows:

Lebanon

Syria

Jordan

Gaza

Israel

Total

106,753

80,499

465,450

199,789

23,507

875,998


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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