The Sunday, March 20, 1949 edition of “The Philadelphia Inquirer” includes an opinion piece by Clarence Pickett, then executive Secretary of AFSC. Pickett reports on a two-month visit he has just taken to “the Gaza areas of southern and southwestern Palestine.” He focuses initially on food, child nutrition, and education. Of the approximately 200,000 refugees, 70,000 are school-age children ages 6-16. AFSC has been forced to run rotating classrooms in tents to allow even two hours daily of instruction per child.
Pickett then shifts to the temporary nature of these relief services, which will only last through August, and addresses the larger problem: “Honest and sacrificial efforts” must be made quickly to either repatriate or resettle refugees with compensation for losses, unlike those of World War II who lingered in Displaced Persons camps. With chilling insight, he warns: “To neglect this chance is to court future wars and retaliation for an indefinite time.”