- Project Runeberg -  Armenia and the Near East /
21

(1928) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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Under the direction of the League of Nations High
Commission for Refugees, an attempt was made to settle ten
thousand refugees in Western Thrace as workers on the land
and in other occupations. Thanks to Colonel Procter’s
energetic and exceptionally able direction of this experiment
it succeeded beyond all anticipations, and in less than a year
the whole ten thousand were turned into self-supporting and
productive members of the community. Based upon this
experience, we proceeded to draw up a plan for settling all
the refugees in Greece, estimated to number over a million.
But this needed capital, which the Greek State did not possess.
Accordingly, as the League’s High Commissioner for Refugees
I proposed that the League should assist the Greek Government
by raising a loan for this work. After a good deal of
opposition the proposal was adopted, and a committee of
three nominated by the League to be responsible for seeing
that the loan was properly used. The chairman was, first,
Mr. Morgenthau, the former American ambassador in
Constantinople, and afterwards Mr. Howland.

He told us that the work of settling the refugees was
progressing remarkably well. The loan obtained by the
Greek Government for the purpose amounted to 12 million
pounds, which was rather more than the sum of 10 millions
that we originally proposed, and double the amount that the
financial experts of the League had thought it possible to
raise. It was hoped that even more could be obtained. The
number of Greek refugees had risen to a million and a half, but
the majority were already provided for. One thing which
had helped considerably was that more than 400,000 Turkish
Muhammedans had been evacuated from the country in
accordance with the agreement with Turkey regarding the
exchange of Greek and Turkish minorities. A large number
of Greek refugees could at once move into the houses left
by the Turks and take over their agricultural work, including
a considerable amount of lucrative tobacco culture.

In working out the plans for the settlement of the refugees
I had also attached great importance to the carpet-weaving
industry of Asia Minor, hoping that, as it was largely carried
on by Greeks, it could be transplanted to Greece, where it

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