§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Stockport)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the operations of the Eastern Soudan Famine Relief Committee, under the superintendence of Dr. Harpur and General F. Haig, R.E., at Suakin, have been seriously interfered with and practically stopped in consequence of certain orders issued by the Cairo Military authorities; that hundreds of starving Soudanese, in receipt of food and hospital relief, were ordered by the authorities to be driven from the gates of Suakin into the famine-stricken country, or were deported in dhows. &c. to other ports along the Red Sea coast; and that hundreds died in consequence of this order, although at the very time thousands of bags of grain, expressly imported for famine relief, were lying in the stores at Suakin, while traders and others were prohibited by the Cairo 197 authorities from sending into the country in the vicinity of Suakin. Whether the Governor of Suakin, Colonel Holled Smith, Her Majesty's Consul, Mr. Barnham, the British merchants and traders, and the Commander of Her Majesty's gunboats at Suakin, made any report to Her Majesty's Government as to these orders prohibiting sale and supply of grain to the starving Soudanese; and whether several successive officers in command of Her Majesty's gunboats in the Red Sea have in despatches to the Admiralty, through the Admirals in command of the Mediterranean Fleet, reported adversely of the policy carried out for the past three or four years in the Eastern Soudan, and whether these Reports will be printed and laid before Parliament.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir J. FERGUSSON, Manchester, N.E.)
We have no information of the operations of the Famine Fund being interfered with. It is true that it was found necessary, when cholera was prevalent in the country, to remove the Arabs who were encamped within the lines of Suakin from the immediate neighbourhood of the town. Her Majesty's Government deeply regret the necessity which arose for the removal of these poor people, but they believe that all possible care and foresight were exercised by the Military Authorities, with a view to mitigate as far as possible the suffering which was the inevitable consequence of this measure. The cordon has now been removed and the restrictions on trade relaxed. Reports on the subject have been received from Her Majesty's Consul at Suakin, the Local Authorities, and from British naval officers on the station, and the question of their publication will be considered when further Papers relating to Egypt are presented.