HC Deb 03 February 1938 vol 331 cc396-7W
Mr. Ammon

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps His Majesty's Government intends to take to implement the promises made to our Assyrian allies in the Great War by Britain and other Powers that their country should be restored, or, alternatively, will he approach the special sub-committee of the League of Nations dealing with this problem to endeavour to find a home for the 30,000 Assyrians now homeless?

Mr. Eden

It is hardly correct to describe the Assyrians as the allies of His Majesty's Government during the War. In view, however, of their sympathy for this unhappy people, His Majesty's Government did everything in their power to secure the inclusion within Iraq of the territory formerly occupied by the Assyrians, and it was the Council of the League of Nations which decided in 1925 upon a frontier line which left that territory in Turkey. This decision was accepted by His Majesty's Government with the approval of Parliament, and the matter clearly cannot be reopened now.

As regards the second part of the question, His Majesty's Government have been represented from the first on the Committee of the League Council set up in 1933 to deal with the Assyrian problem, and have done everything in their power to facilitate the task of the committee. It has unfortunately proved impossible, however, to find a suitable area where all the Assyrians can be settled together, and the Council of the League decided in September last to adopt a scheme for the reorganisation on a self-supporting basis of the existing temporary settlement on the river Khabur in Syria, which contains about 9,000 Assyrians. The Council decided at the same time that the committee must terminate such functions as it possessed in respect of the Assyrians remaining in Iraq, and invited the Iraqi Government to take steps to ensure that this section of the Assyrians should be given every assistance to settle down as a prosperous and contented section of the Iraqi people. I understand that the Iraqi Government have intimated their willingness to do this.

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