124. Memorandum From the Deputy Administrator of the Office of Refugee and Migration Affairs (McCollum) to the Secretary to the Cabinet (Rabb)0


  • U.S. Assistance to Yugoslav Escapees

United States policy respecting assistance to Yugoslav national escapees is contained in NSC 5706/2 (U.S. Policy on Defectors, Escapees and Refugees from Communist Areas) adopted in March 19571 which inter alia provided for U.S. assistance in the interest of insuring asylum but restricted expenditure for the group to approximately the current rate (interpreted as $1.2 million U.S. Escapee Program funds per annum). The greatly increased number of Yugoslav refugees seeking asylum in Italy and Austria during the past eighteen months (averaging nearly 2000 per month in 1957) with a concomitant increase in the rate of resettlement of Yugoslavs resulted in the virtual exhaustion of the $1.2 million by September 1957. On September 12, 1957, in response to a State Department appeal, the National Security Council decided to raise the ceiling of expenditure for 1957 from $1.2 million to $1.55 million and [Page 330] requested the Department to undertake a survey of the refugee problem.2 This survey confirmed that Yugoslav refugees were escaping faster than they could be resettled and drew attention to the impact of these increased numbers upon the economies of Italy and Austria pointing out that the governments of these countries regarded the Yugoslav refugees as a problem of the Free World and that unless further outside assistance were forthcoming they would be forced to be more restrictive in their asylum policies.

On December 24, 1957 the NSC (Action #1837)3 noted the decision of the Operations Coordinating Board on December 11, 1957 that, although the facts did not justify a request to NSC for a review of policy, it would be desirable to give commodity assistance under Title II of PL 480 to the countries of first asylum receiving increased numbers of refugees from Yugoslavia and that some of the commodities supplied the recipient countries might be sold by them to provide funds for the transportation and resettlement of refugees as well as for their care and maintenance. The OCB also noted that the State Department would report to the Board should later developments show that the assistance made available in this matter is inadequate.

Discussions with the Governments of Italy and Austria to implement the OCB decision have resulted in an offer to Italy of $2.0 million for direct feeding of Yugoslav refugees in that country. A proposal made by the Austrian Government for a $4.0 million Title II program of which $2.0 million would be for direct feeding and $2.0 million for sales, the proceeds of which to be used for Yugoslav refugees, has not proved feasible owing to the market situation in that country. Sale of surplus commodities would inevitably displace sales that otherwise would be made through normal trade channels. Further negotiation has indicated that not more than $1.0 million in commodities could be used in direct feeding and the Embassy in Vienna has been authorized to offer a $1.0 million program on this basis. It is considered highly unlikely that this will meet the need of the situation. Meanwhile, resettlement assistance continues to be extended to Yugoslav refugees in Austria and Italy through the U.S. Escapee Program under the $1.2 million ceiling. It now appears that these funds for 1958 will be exhausted by midsummer unless measures are taken to reduce expenditure for resettlement and transportation. This would have the unfortunate effect of reducing [Page 331] emigration that might otherwise take place thereby increasing the dimensions of the problem in Austria and Italy.

This matter is under study in connection with a semi-annual progress report on NSC 5706/2 due for NSC consideration in June. One solution being considered would be for the United States to provide overseas transportation to Yugoslavs by increasing the United States per capita contribution to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration from the FY 1958 appropriation for this purpose. This would reduce the demands on the limited U.S. Escapee Program funds which could be concentrated on resettlement assistance as opposed to transportation costs and would permit the movement of more Yugoslavs out of Europe.

Robert S. McCollum
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Gray Papers, Yugoslavia—Escapees. Secret.
  2. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXVI, pp. 584588.
  3. Documentation on the Department of State’s appeal and subsequent discussions within the NSC and OCB is in Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Escapee Program.
  4. NSC Action No. 1837 recorded actions taken at the December 23, 1957, meeting of the National Security Council. A copy is Ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council.