HC Deb 29 October 1936 vol 316 cc27-8
49. Mr. PALING

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to give the House with regard to the present position of affairs in Abyssinia?


During the rainy season, which lasted until the end of September, there was so far as His Majesty's Government are aware, no appreciable extension of the area occupied by the Italian forces during the campaign which ended with the fall of Addis Ababa on 5th May last. My latest information indicates, however, that an Italian column is advancing on Jimma, while another is making its way northwards from the Kenya frontier and is believed to have occupied Allata, approximately halfway to Addis Ababa. In Western Abyssinia and other territories so far unoccupied by the Italian forces there has been much tribal unrest coupled with disorders between Galla, Amhara and Arab elements. The situation in the unoccupied provinces has continued steadily to deteriorate, in the absence of any constituted Government capable of enforcing its authority over the varied sections of the population.

In order to avoid unnecessary risks, His Majesty's Consulate at Gore was closed on 28th September. The Consul, Captain Erskine, has withdrawn to the Sudan Customs post in the Gambeila enclave, where he arrived safely on 13th October. Prior to that date Captain Erskine had succeeded, thanks to the influence which he was able to exert upon individual Amhara and Galla chieftains, both in Gore and in other centres, in arranging for the safe evacuation of the majority of the foreign missionaries, merchants and others willing and able to leave Abyssinia. In certain cases foreigners have either preferred, owing to the insecurity of the communications, or been compelled, owing to the uncertainties of the tribal position, to remain under the protection of friendly native chieftains. A telegram received from Gambeila on 22nd October reports that civil war is now believed openly to have broken out between Amhara and Galla in the Western provinces.


Does our position in relation to Lake Tsana remain unchanged?


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that question on the Paper.