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Professor Whittlesey Doubts African Plan for Refugees

Expert Believes Opportunities For Refugees Are Limited In Africa


The British proposal to settle German refugees in their East African colonies was labeled "a forlorn hope" by Dewent Whittlesey, associate professor of Geography and expert on Africa, in an interview with the CRIMSON last night.

"Most of the territory which would be used for the scheme is uninhabitable," Whittlesey explained. "The chief difficulty is water, and not even the natives live there. Yet the high lands have a climate which Europeans could live in, and although Europeans would have difficulty with the climate and danger of disease, they could probably live on the coastal plains."

Jews City Dwellers

Considering the sociological fact that most Jews are city dwelling people and are primarily business men, he stated that business opportunities are rather scanty and that Jews would have to replace a comparatively small number of Europeans engaged in trading with the natives.

"Yet, there is always the possibility of new trade or business development," Whittlesey continued. "But, since the environment is unfavorable, it would take a lot of capital to build up an economic empire.

"As far as agriculture is concerned, it must be remembered that it is either plantation agriculture or cattle raising. Not only is the climate too severe to permit Europeans to do actual labor in the field, but there is also the social system in Africa which frowns on anything but native labor."

Few Mineral Deposits

Whittlesey doubted whether there were great mineral deposits outside of the rich area in Northern Rhodesia.

"The problem of the lack of positions open to new settlers because the climate does not permit them to work in mines, and the fact that new settlers have to replace English executives already in charge of the mines, again preclude any hope of a large number of refugees finding work in the mines."

"I do not believe that the British colonies could support 200,000 or even 100,000 Europeans," he concluded. "Yet, there is always a chance of building a great economic system in the wilderness under adverse conditions. Nothing like this has ever been done before and it would be an experiment needing large capital."

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