The Chairman of the American Red Cross (Payne) to the Under Secretary of State (Phillips)

My Dear Mr. Phillips: It seems incumbent on the American Red Cross to call your attention to the present situation in Greece. Since the end of September, the American Red Cross has been diligently occupied in dealing with the refugee situation there. The number of refugees driven into Greece from Asia Minor approximates one million. In cooperation with the Greek Government, the American Red Cross has been able to deal with this emergency. The refugees have been fed, have received blankets, clothing, medical and other necessary assistance. The cash expenditure in this behalf, aside from quantities of clothing furnished by the Red Cross Chapters, by June 30 will be quite three million dollars.

We are advised by Colonel William N. Haskell, Red Cross Commissioner for Greece, that the emergency problem, as such, will end [Page 322] as the crops ripen. Since the American Red Cross is an emergency organization, and does not assume to deal with permanent conditions, he advises that we notify the Greek Government that on the 30th day of June, 1923, the Red Cross will withdraw.

By reason of the physical limitations of Greece and the situation developed or emphasized by the Lausanne conference, it seems our duty to call your attention to what appears to us a serious and perhaps a permanent situation. Greece has a population of substantially four and one-half millions. It cannot permanently absorb all the refugees. The treaty signed at Lausanne by Greece and Turkey provides that persons of the Greek orthodox religion now under the jurisdiction of Turkey shall be compelled to leave Turkey and move into Greece, and the Mohammedan population now living in Greece shall be likewise compelled to move from Greece into Turkish territory. We have no accurate knowledge as to the number of persons to be affected by this compulsory evacuation, but a considerable number is involved, and it is plain that this large number of people, both Greeks and Turks, will be rendered homeless. This involves not an emergency, calling for action by the American Red Cross, but a permanent situation involving a constructive program requiring huge sums of money, much in excess of the capacity of the Greek Government, and several years of time.

While we have no information indicating the number of Armenians included in the refugee body, it is probable that it reaches many thousand. Inasmuch as the Armenians are not attached to the Greeks by ties of kinship or language, it may be anticipated that the Greek Government will feel that it cannot accept the responsibility for the permanent absorption of this element into the Greek population. In this event, it would seem not improbable that Greece will look to other governments for help in resolving the Armenian problem.

In connection with the withdrawal of the American Red Cross not later than June 30th, may we suggest that the State Department take official cognizance of the situation and invite the cooperation of other governments and other agencies prepared to deal with a permanent program of reconstruction, to the end that these unfortunate people of all nationalities may be afforded an opportunity to live normal lives.

If such a plan can be worked out you may say that the American Red Cross will place all its facilities at the service of such a movement and will aid financially.


John Barton Payne