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Enemy-Occupied Territories (Relief Measures)

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 17 June 1942

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that large sections of communities in occupied territories in Europe, especially Jews, are suffering greater hardships than prisoners of war, he will consider means, possibly through the International Red Cross, of providing those sufferers with food, and especially medicines?

I need scarcely say that His Majesty's Government are acutely aware of the horrors and deprivations inflicted on the peoples in the occupied territories by the enemy, and they have facilitated such schemes for bringing food relief as appeared to them not to impair the effect of the blockade upon the enemy's war effort. As regards medical relief, as the International Red Cross Committee is aware, His Majesty's Government have always been ready to further the transit of medical supplies, within the strict sense of the term, to occupied territory. His Majesty's Government do not consider that the vital blockade considerations which arise out of this question are at all comparable with the considerations which govern their decision to allow in this war, as in the last, the despatch of comforts to prisoners of war. Moreover the International Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war provides that prisoners of war shall be authorised to receive individually parcels of food and clothing and the despatch of such parcels is governed by well-established rules of international law and practice.