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Greek Refugees (Relief Measures)

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the Report of the United Nations Balkan Committee on the plight of a million Greek refugees due to Communist guerrilla warfare and banditary; and whether he will urge the United Nations substantially to increase relief measures and assistance on an international scale as this problem now exceeds both the capacity of United Nations agencies operating in Greece as well as available Greek resources.

Yes, Sir. The report was supported by the United Kingdom delegate to the United Nations Special Committee on the Balkans. His Majesty?s Government are well aware of the distress caused to these people by the Communist-led and foreign-sponsored rebellion in that country. Any proposals calculated to relieve the distress of these people will be sympathetically considered by His Majesty?s Government.

Will His Majesty?s Government raise this matter again at the United Nations in view of the deliberate policy of abducting Greek children on a very large scale, thereby causing tens of thousands of Greeks to abandon their homes and villages.

There is an Assembly resolution dealing with the plight of these children, and directions have been given to the International voluntary organisations to make an investigation and report on that subject. These proceedings are still in train.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that resolution is limited to children, whereas I referred to the deliberate abduction of the children so that tens of thousands of refugees are leaving their homelands, necessitating reconsideration of the whole scale of refugee relief.

I am aware of the growing and most distressing problem reflected in the general refugee problem. The hon. Member will, however, reflect that his previous supplementary question dealt with children, and it was to that point that I attempted to address my- self. On the second question, His Majesty?s Government will be anxious to aid any appropriate action at any point.

Does not the Minister remember an occasion when he said there was a Left and a Right in Greece, and that people in this country of a certain character were anxious to support the Right and that Socialists and Communists must support the Left; and does he still hold that point of view?

There is still a Right and a Left in Greece, and I have no doubt that this House and other places will divide, quite properly, upon their support of Right or Left. What we should consider here is the distress, the suffering and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, due primarily to a revolt which international evidence has displayed as being assisted across three borders.

Could the right hon. Gentleman have the report of the International Refugee Organisation on this matter placed in the Library?