HC Deb 28 February 1966 vol 725 cc884-5
18 and 19. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) how many British subjects now remain in Southern Sudan;

(2) if he is satisfied with the measures taken to safeguard British subjects in Southern Sudan; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. George Thomson

There are at present three citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and an estimated 12 Cypriot families living in the Southern Sudan. The Sudanese Government gave an assurance on 27th August, 1964, that all possible protection would be provided for British subjects and British property in the Southern Sudan. Following the Sudanese Government's action in breaking diplomatic relations with Her Majesty's Government, they have given further assurances that they will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of British lives and property in the Sudan. Consular relations are being maintained.

Mr. Mills

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask him if it does not show that there is a very small number of British subjects there, in the appalling situation that has developed in Southern Sudan, and would he not make the strongest possible representations to the Sudanese Government and, perhaps, to the United Nations to rectify this state of affairs, bearing in mind our past interest in Sudan?

Mr. Thomson

That is another question. Her Majesty's Government are responsible for the safety of our citizens. The general situation in Southern Sudan is not our responsibility.

Lord Balniel

Is the hon. Gentleman able to say whether the R.A.F. mission which has been used, in the past, for supply drops in Southern Sudan has been reviewed since the breaking off of diplomatic relations? Are any steps being taken by the Government to try to restore diplomatic relations with the Sudan?

Mr. Thomson

The second point is primarily a matter for the Government of the Sudan, who took the initiative in breaking off diplomatic relations with us. The question of military arrangements with the Sudan is under review as a result of that situation.