HC Deb 05 July 1939 vol 349 cc1289-90
38. Mr. Petherick

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Abyssinian refugees are in Kenya; where they are quartered; how long they have been in the country; whether they are employed; if unemployed, whether they have been offered work and refused; what is the cost of their upkeep out of national funds; and what is the policy of the Government for their future?

53. Captain Peter Macdonald

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how much the two civilian and military camps of Abyssinian refugees now on Kenya soil have, respectively, cost the British taxpayer; and whether he can state the Government's policy with respect to these refugees?

Mr. M. MacDonald

As the reply is rather long I will, with my hon. Friends' permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The number of Abyssinian refugees in Kenya is nearly 6,000. They are quartered in a camp at Isiolo, where there is also a camp for Eritrean military refugees. The majority of the Abyssinian refugees entered Kenya in the summer of 1937. It has not been possible to settle the refugees as a community in Kenya or to offer them employment outside the camp, but the adult males are employed on camp maintenance and construction. The total expenditure to be met from United Kingdom funds to 31st March last for both camps was £162,030 and the estimated expenditure for the current year is £70,000.

The disposal of the refugees is a question of great complexity and has been constantly under examination. A number of settlement proposals in different territories have been considered, but discarded. A certain number may wish to return to their own country, and an assurance has recently been given by the Italian Government that refugees who do so will not suffer prejudicial treatment owing to their having been refugees or to their having taken part in hostilities against Italian forces. As has been stated on previous occasions, however, none of the refugees will be compelled to go back against their will, and no pressure will be put upon them to induce them to return. I am not yet able to announce any definite decision as regards the future disposal of those refugees who do not wish to return.

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