From the Stars and Stripes archives

Magyar exit soars close to 100,000

Americans and Germans from the Darmstadt, Germany, area prepare for the arrival of a train carrying refugees from Hungary.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: November 29, 1956

VIENNA — Austria Wednesday appealed for the Red Cross to take over major refugee camps as the number of homeless persons who have fled Hungarian communism soared to almost 100,000.

A representative of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees said he was leaving for his Geneva headquarters with the appeal. The Austrians, he added, asked High Commissioner James Read to get the League of Red Cross Societies to make a greater effort to ease the refugee situation in their country.

The league groups the world's major Red Cross organizations. It is already committed to caring for 20,000 refugees, but the number in camps has now far exceeded this figure.

Under the new plan, the Red Cross would operate all camps housing more than 500 persons. This would enable the Red Cross to send in national teams to relieve hard-pressed Austrian personnel and would also provide a source of funds.

"People are always more eager to contribute to a private agency than to a government," one refugee official explained.

Even at $1 a day per person — the minimum cost for maintaining refugees in camps — 100.000 refugees would cut a big slice out of Austria's modest budget.

Homes have been offered all over the Western World for 40,000 refugees, while Britain. France and Canada stand ready to take all comers.

There was no lack of money aid promised, however. The American Red Cross is giving $5 million, while the Canadian Red Cross has pledged $1 million. The West German government, included on a long list of donors, in to give 10 million marks (about $2.5 million).

Many Austrian and foreign officials in Austria want to see the UN add to its power by taking actual charge of the refugees. Since the high commissioner's office is not set up to do this, a new organization would have to be created. Meanwhile, the major share of the burden would rest on the Red Cross.

The weight of the refugee problem is increasing every day. Despite a cold rain that drove across the frontier Wednesday, some 2,000 refugees came over during the daylight hours. One, badly wounded by fire on the Hungarian side, died after reaching Austria.

Using buses, special trains and a far-flung airlift, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration has still been unable to get more than about 2,500 refugees a day out of Austria. The bottleneck was not so much in transportation as in screening by host nations and the desire of many refugees to stay in Austria for a while.

More than 3,200 Jewish refugees have come out of Hungary since Nov. 5, according to a report by the American Joint Distribution Committee.

The agency, which aids needy Jews abroad, said the figure was significant because the proportion of Jews among refugees is almost three times their proportion in Hungary's population.

The Jewish group also called on other countries to speed up their taking in of refugees.

Te eagerness of Darmstadt residents is matched by the eagerness of passengers to get food and gifts as the refugee train arrives in town.

from around the web