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International Children's Fund

Volume 465: debated on Monday 16 May 1949

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48.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the proportion of needy children who are being relieved from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

The Children's Fund estimate that they are giving extra food to approximately 4½ million children in Europe and the Middle East. Aid is also being given in the form of wool and leather, which the countries concerned turn into clothing and shoes for children.

Does not my right hon. Friend recognise that that is a very small proportion of the needy children requiring aid?

I recognise that fact, and Great Britain has made as good a contribution as she possibly can in this matter.

In view of the fact that these 4½ million children are only a quarter of the estimated number of children who are in desperate need in Europe at the present time, will my right hon. Friend consider trying to find some way of increasing the Government's contribution to this fund in order that the millions of American dollars which have been pledged should be matched by the much smaller sums from Europe, and not be lost?

Does the number given include children in Eastern as well as in Western Europe?

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the financial position of the United Nation's International Children's Emergency Fund; and what steps are being taken to ensure that its work can be carried on.

It is understood that the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund has now allocated all the funds at its disposal to continuing its present programme of feeding, clothing and medical aid and that, unless Governments contribute further to the fund before the end of June, thus releasing further matching funds from the remaining Congressional appropriation of 20 million dollars, then the organisation will have to cease its operations by the end of this year. It is understood that a general appeal has been issued for further contributions.

In view of the past generosity of Australia and Canada, who have provided far more funds than we have, and also the generosity of America, will not the British Government make a more substantial contribution in order to save this fund?

Would my right hon. Friend consider inviting the Soviet Union, who are responsible for this terrible situation, to do at least something for these unfortunate children?

We are trying to interest every Government in the matter. It is the worst thing in the world to let children or anyone else suffer. The tragedy of all this business is that poor unfortunate people who have no power are the victims of all this business.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are many people in this country who are very concerned at the thought that this country might not take part in this work and who regard this work as one of the most beneficent things that the United Nations are doing? I urge the Foreign Secretary to keep this fund going.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that substantial sums were sent to China during the war by the Lady Cripps fund? Would it not be a good gesture to bring the nations together in continuing that fund, when there is so much suffering?

Can my right hon. Friend give some hope to the House that the British Government will take the initiative by seeing that the balance of the money needed is raised, in order to enable the fund to continue after 1949?

I will not express hopes until after the Chancellor of the Exchequer returns from his holiday.