Courtesy Reuters

Postwar Problems of Refugees

PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT predicted in October 1939 that "when this ghastly war ends there may be not one million but ten million or twenty million men, women and children, belonging to many races and many religions, living in many countries and possibly on several continents, who will enter into the wide picture -- the problem of the human refugee." [i] If we regard as refugees all those who have had to leave their homes because of military operations or persecution, through fear or under compulsion, then even the higher figure mentioned by the President has already been exceeded.

The most numerous refugee group consists of those who have had to flee before advancing armies. In China alone there are said to be fifty million of these. There must be almost as many Russians who have been evacuated or have escaped from Germanoccupied territory. Two million Indians who had long been settled in Burma have found their way to India. No reliable figures are available on the Poles who fled to Soviet Russia or on those who fled from Russian Poland into German Poland and the Vilna territory, but the number must run into the millions. When the Low Countries and France were invaded, the stream of refugees blocked the roads, and although most have now returned, thirty thousand civilians and many more soldiers -- Belgians, Dutch, Poles, Czechs and other nationalities -- escaped to Great Britain alone. So it has gone all over the world -- in Greece, Jugoslavia, Malaya and the East Indies. In most of the cases mentioned the number of refugees has been limited only by the means of escape.

The movement of labor from occupied territories into Germany, or within those territories, is of a somewhat different character. Some of it, no doubt, has been voluntary but many have had to move under coercion. Then there are the transfers of populations as a result of cessions of territory. Rumania, perhaps, has suffered most in this way; two hundred thousand persons

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