REPORT OF CONFERENCE HELD IN PARIS APRIL 1ST & 2ND 1939
Delegates from almost all the non-Fascist countries were present, as the Conference was a combined one of the Centrale Sanitaire Internationale, the Committee for Children, the International Food Commission, and the International Co-ordinating Committee.
The first session was devoted to a report by representatives of the International Commission returned from Valencia, where they had been arranging for the evacuation of refugees.
We were told that some 4000 Spaniards were assembled at Alicante, but they would not be able to leave unless rescued by warships or ships under protection. A deputation was therefore sent to ask the French Government to act immediately to rescue these men.
The deputation was composed of representatives of U.S.A., France, Switzerland, Holland, Norway and England (myself). We saw the Minister of Marine, who was sympathetic and agreed to order French warships to proceed to Alicante, subject to the Minister for Foreign Affairs having no objections, and to the Minister of the Interior granting the necessary permits for an additional 4000 refugees.
We accordingly went to see these two Ministers, but they were away, and we were received by their Secretaries, who promised to put our case to them.
At each of the Ministries the official attitude, while sympathetic, was: "Why should France take all the burden of the refugees? What are other countries doing about it?''
The Centrale Sanitaire Internationale.
After we returned, the C.S.I. Conference commenced, with reports from each of the delegates on the work of their respective Committees.
We were complimented on our work, on the speedy readjustment of our activities when Catalonia fell, and especially on our proposal to equip refugee doctors who emigrate.
It was stated that there is the greatest difficulty in getting into the Camps, and it is precisely those in which conditions are worst that are the most inaccessible.
The C.S.I. works through doctors in the areas where the Camps are situated, offering them stores and supplies.
Attempts had been made for Spanish and International doctors at present in St. Cyprien to be transferred to other camps where they could work, but the French Authorities had refused to allow this, citing "Administrative Difficulties".
It is not possible to send personnel into the Camps to work, as the Military Authorities refuse to recognise any voluntary organisation such as the C.S.I. The Red Cross Society is allowed in. This lack of facilities for representatives to work in the Camps leads to loads of material consigned for certain Camps getting distributed in others, at the will of the Authorities, while medical supplies intended for particular doctors often go elsewhere.
The general conclusion to be drawn was that it was intended to destroy the morale of the refugees and to induce them to return to Spain.