The International Organization for Migration says it will close its German Forced Labor Compensation Program for certain Nazi victims by the end of this year. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from IOM headquarters in Geneva.
The program, established in 2000, is co-funded by the German government and German Industry to provide compensation to former slave and forced laborers and certain other victims of the Nazis. The IOM is one of seven partner organizations processing claims, and is closing in accordance with the German Foundation Act that established the compensation mechanism.
IOM Information Officer Marie-Agnes Heine says the German Fund will not be allowed to issue payments after December 31.
"We have been distributing 540 million euro ($710 million) under this program, and have received 100,000 positive claims in certain different categories, and have paid almost 120,000 people," she said. "We are going to close down also our hotline services, and all the documents and claims received under that program are going to go to the German Federal Archive in Berlin that will act as custodian."
Over the past six years, the German Fund has received more than 300,000 completed claims for forced labor and for personal injury. Heine says people classified as forced laborers in agriculture received less than half the amount of money awarded those who were forced to work in industry.
Heine says it is difficult to know how much money will be left over after the program ends.
"This can only be said when we are really closing down and doing the checks and balances," she said.
Heine says whatever money is left over from the fund will be used for humanitarian and social programs.