HC Deb 18 February 1924 vol 169 cc1285-7

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many raids from Abyssinia into territory under British administration took place during last year; into what regions these raiders penetrated; what casualties were suffered by Abyssinians, British subjects, or British protected subjects, respectively; whether any, and, if so, how many, captives were carried away into Abyssinia; whether arms and ammunition bearing the Government stamp were captured from the raiders; and what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government in the matter?


With the hon. Member's permission, I propose to circulate a reply to this question in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the reply

His Majesty's Government has information of four important raids in the course of 1923.

  1. 1. The first took place on 19th March, at Khor Dagu Burun in the South East Sudan, on the pretext of collecting tribute, but probably with the object of capturing slaves. Four Sudanese are reported to have been killed by the raiders and two carried off to Abyssinia, though the 1286 Abyssinian Government claims that these persons were Abyssinian born. No information has been received regarding the mark of the rifles. His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa protested to the Abyssinian Government, which claims that the frontier of the Sudan was not crossed. It is sending for the responsible local official with a view to investigation and further reports are awaited by His Majesty's Government, but, owing to the extreme inaccessibility of the region, it may be some time before full details are available. In the meantime a police post is to be established this winter for the protection of the district.
  2. 2. The second raid took place in April, 1923, in the Horr Valley, near the southern end of Lake Rudolf. There was an encounter between a raiding party of ivory poachers and a detachment of the King's African Rifles, in which nine raiders were killed, twenty wounded, and five prisoners taken, the British troops sustaining no casualties. Of the eighty raiders who took part in the expedition only twenty are said to have returned home alive. A large quantity of ivory was captured from the raiders and four rifles of an old pattern, which did not bear the Government stamp. His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa protested to the Abyssinian Government, who undertook to have the leader of the raiding part, sent to the capital for punishment.
  3. 3. A third raid for ivory took place on 2nd September at. Lokitet, near Loima, Turkana, in Kenya. A fight ensued with a party of King's African Rifles, and four Abyssinians and four armed Turkana tribesmen were killed and one Abyssinian captured, no casualties being sustained by the King's African Rifles. It is considered that the raiders have received a salutory lesson, which will go far to discourage raids in this area. At the date of our latest reports, His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa was awaiting fuller details before raising the question with the Central Government.
  4. 4. The fourth raid was in October last, when a large party of Abyssinians, led by the local Governor in person, invaded a district in the unadministered part of the South-East Sudan in the neighbourhood of the Ajuba River. The main object of this raid appears to have been loot and cattle-driving, but it seems probable that some 1287 women and children were carried away into Abyssinia. A fuller report of the facts is awaited from the Sudan Government. Meanwhile His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa has lodged a vigorous protest with the Abyssinian Government, with the result that orders have been sent for the recall of the offending Governor.

In addition to the above, several petty cattle raids into Kenya have been frustrated by patrols of the King's African Rifles. The Kenya authorities state that no slave raids from Abyssinia have penetrated that territory during the past year. Such raids as have occurred have been with the object of obtaining ivory.


Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that the British delegation I the Assembly last September repeatedly drew attention to the danger of this very thing, and will the information which he has promised to circulate be forwarded to the League of Nations?


Yes. I have no objection to forwarding the information to the League of Nations. The information to be circulated is purely matter of fact.


May we take it that the right hon. Gentleman is fully seised of the importance of this question, and that he will take steps to lay all the information in the hands of the British representative on the League, in order that he may be fully informed on this matter when he attends any future meeting?


As a matter of fact, he has now got it before him.

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