26 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 9

Judgment of Solomon The International Red Cross Committee, I am

told, have found a startlingly simple way of apportioning the various national contributions towards dealing with the casualties in Vietnam,

and all , through the good offices of the National .

Liberation Front representative in Moscovi. One- third of contributions go direct from Geneva to the Red Cross in South Vietnam; two-thirds go to Moscow and are there divided equally to be passed on to the Red Cross in North Vietnam and a body known as the Red Cross Committee of the National Liberation Front.

About the Red Cross in South Vietnam there are no complaints whatsoever. It has been estab- lished for some time, any Red Cross observer is allowed in to see the administration of the fund, and there are no doubts that it reaches the victims of the war. About the Red Cross in the North people are less happy. The existence of the Committee is verified, though Hanoi has consistently refused to allow anyone in to ob- serve its administration. A further request for Hanoi to permit inspection at present lies rather pessimistically with the North Vietnam represen- tatives in Warsaw. About the NLF Red Cross however, there are not only doubts, there is a total lack of confirmation whether the organi- sation exists, ever has existed, or is ever likely to exist. No representative of the organisation has ever been seen. The NLF man in Moscow simply takes the money, promises that it will be sent on to Hanoi and from there passed down into the areas held by the Vietcong.

That all victims of war are equally deserving of treatment, one would hardly dispute, though one does wonder how many people know what happens to their contributions. One wonders equally if giving two-thirds to the North and the Vietcong and one to the South is a very fair distribution. Such discussion is academic. But that two-thirds of the contributions should go to two bodies, of which one refuses to allow inspection and the other is not even known to exist, seems to me to be straining the neutrality and evident good faith of even such an admirable body as the International Red Cross. Some people will always be fooled by front organisations: but what of something which bothers to display neither front nor organisation? This is a strange way of furthering international charity.