WWII UNRRA used passport - Our Passports
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WWII UNRRA used passport


1944 travel document for an official traveling to the Middle East on refugee matters.


Special US passport that was issued in the United States for a member of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration organization during its first year of operation.


The passport in this article here is a good sample that relates to the early days of the UN and its handling of refugees during the war. The passport was used, on specific sea, air & land routes that were safe and available for Allied usage during the last year of the war. The document was issued for travelling to liberated areas for assisting those who were in need of shelter and refuge.


United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was established in the middle of the war, 1943, and became part of the United Nations in 1945 (this organization was shut down in 1947 and the handling of refugee matters after the war was supervised by the body that was established afterwards, the International Refugee Organisation (IRO)).


UNRRA’s main mission was giving aid to war victims, and this was done by providing all the necessary relief measures required, for example, the issuing of clothing, food, shelter and other substantial basic needs that could be provided. The providing of the above requirements would be achieved by the proper coordinated administration between the UN and other organizations erected for the purpose of relief and assistance for the refugees. Advisory committees were set up at first in order to settle matters connected to health, agriculture, education, welfare and DP issues for areas in East Asia and Europe.


Since the war was still raging on during the first year of its founding, relief and assistance was not offered on the continent itself, at first, but rather in areas liberated by the Allies in 1943 and 1944, such as northern Africa and the Middle East, and that is where the first efforts where concentrated by UNRRA. It not surprising then to find the first refugee camps in Egypt, Palestine and Syria for example, which housed thousands of refugees from Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece; and the holder of the passport in this article was travelling to those regions controlled by the Allies in 1944.


Important note:


The first UN or UNRRA related official passports where not issued originally by those organizations. During the war years it was the United States that issued official Special or Diplomatic passports to the officials of the United Nations and UNRRA.


United States special passport 40176 was issued to Treva Edgerton Burd on August 24th 1944. The passport was used extensively for Egypt & Palestine, with visits to Syria and Lebanon as well, moving through the northern border crossing via the Ras En Naqura point of entry/exit.


Her route to the Middle East most likely was done via military transport via Morocco eastwards to Cairo.


In many ways this passport here is connected to present day events unfolding in front of us in the Middle East and Europe. Once again, we can find the United Nations and other relief organizations contributing to the plight of the needy. It is through the countless efforts and help that the victims, past and present, can find some relief.


I have added sample images of this WW2 UNRRA passport.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.

Neil Kaplan
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