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Assyrian Christian Refugees

Volume 155: debated on Monday 26 June 1922

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asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received representations from Dr. Nansen's agent at Novorossisk, Caucasus, to the effect that 1,000 starving and destitute Assyrian Christians, formerly domiciled in the Mosul Province of Mesopotamia, have reached the port of Novorossisk after wandering through Azerbidjian; and whether the British or Iraq Governments will endeavour to arrange for the repatriation of these refugees to their original homes, and will meanwhile provide sufficient assistance to prevent them from starving through the agency of Dr. Nansen?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. His Majesty's Government have expended a sum of nearly two million pounds sterling on these Assyrians, towards whom His Majesty's Government had certain indirect responsibilities during military operations in Mesopotamia. They do not, however, feel justified in entertaining the idea of making a further charge on the British taxpayer to assist these unfortunate people.

Will the hon. Gentleman approach the Government of Iraq, to find out whether they are willing to have these people, who wish to return to their homes, back again?

I think it would be more in order for my hon. Friend to put that question to the Colonial Office.

Who is responsible for sending these refugees to Novorossisk? Has the British Government anything to do with it?