- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
294

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
choose land, had to return, after spending their money
in vain. Besides this, roads had to be made through
the new countries, railways constructed, and in many
places depots for corn and other things provided, so that
the settlers might not be destitute on arrival and during
the early days of their work. Medical attendance and
nursing had to be provided for the sick, who are liable
to be numerous on such long journeys, when people
are crowded together in anything but hygienic con
ditions. In many districts it was also necessary to dig
wells before the settlers arrived, and many other pre
parations were to be made.
It may easily be understood that with such immense
areas it has not been possible, with the best intentions
on the part of those in control, to comply satisfactorily
with all demands. The consequence has been that,
especially in former years, a number of settlers became
destitute and could not hold their own ; after losing
all they possessed, they were often compelled to return
to Russia. The lot of one of these returned colonists
is not an enviable one ; before he left his home in Russia
he had sold all he had to procure ready money. This
was spent on the journey and in his attempt to make
both ends meet in Siberia, until at last he has to return
empty-handed, as a beggar—and then he has to try
again to make a living at home, where, perhaps, he found
it difficult enough to get on before. On an average
about 10 per cent. of the emigrants returned home
every year. But in this respect also there seems to
have been considerable improvement recently, judging
from the official reports. Thus in 1911 the total number
of emigrants who returned to Russia was about 68,600
(30 per cent.), while in 1912 it was about 32,700, and in
1913 about 23,000 (7 per cent.) ; as we see, there is a
marked decline, and this refers to all districts, except
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