Hon. Sidney E. Smith (Secretary of Slate for External Affairs):
Mr. Speaker, I believe that the house will be interested in the statement I am about to make. The government has decided to seek parliamentary approval for a special gift of $1,500,000 worth of Canadian flour, which is equivalent to about
973,000 bushels of wheat, to the United Nations relief and works agency for Palestine
refugees. This proposed expenditure will be in addition to our normal cash contribution of $500,000 for which parliamentary approval will be asked when we consider the main estimates for 1959-60.
The house will recall that a similar special flour contribution was made to UNRWA last year. That contribution, together with a very large matching contribution made by the United States, we have been informed, brought about a considerable though temporary improvement in UNRWA's finances and, as we had hoped, the agency has been able to make plans to use the savings effected on food costs, through our gift of flour, to revive some of the more constructive rehabilitation projects of the agency such as improved vocational training facilities and the like. Some of these activities had to be abandoned because of lack of funds.
Recently, however, despite new and increased pledges by a number of countries and despite a lower total budget, UNRWA has again found itself gravely short of funds. As last year, our flour contribution will also make available to UNRWA a large additional contribution from the United States on a matching basis. The contribution is being made not only because of the humanitarian reasons which the government will place before the house but by reason also of UNRWA's important role in preserving political stability in the area through its relief and rehabilitation work among the refugees.
This special contribution is also evidence at this time of Canadian support for a proposal that was unanimously adopted by the United Nations assembly last year, namely to designate 1959 as a world refugee year. The objective of the world refugee year is to focus attention of governments and peoples on the unfortunate plight of large groups of refugees and, by drawing forth increased support for programs in their aid, to alleviate and where possible solve their difficulties.
Mr. Speaker, just for a moment I will seize this opportunity to speak of the contributions that have been made by Canadian citizens and certain voluntary organizations in Canada in addition to government help for UNRWA. A number of private Canadian charitable organizations are providing extremely valuable and worth-while assistance. The Unitarian service committee of Canada, for example, provided in 1958 some 20 tons of clothing for the refugees, 10,000 layettes sewn by thousands of groups across Canada, and funds for commercial and nurse-midwife training courses. The Canadian Red Cross women's work committee supplied over $19,000 worth of new clothing to UNRWA in 1958, and other significant contributions have been made by the Canadian Lutheran world relief and the
committee on overseas relief of the United possibly can on rehabilitation as being exChurch of Canada. All these and other volun- tremely important, possibly even more im-tary organizations in Canada deserve our com- portant than relief, so that the difficulty in mendation for their work in this and many this trouble spot in the Middle East may soon other important fields abroad. be resolved.
Topic: UNITED NATIONS
Subtopic: UNRWA-GIFT OF FLOUR FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES