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Historical documents

99 Garnett to Strahan

Letter CANBERRA, 3 September 1946


I am directed by the High Commissioner [1] to refer to the
informal discussions which took place in March 1945 between the
then Australian High Commissioner in London and the Secretary of
State for Dominion Affairs, concerning the problem of the
resettlement of the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq,
following which it is understood that Mr. Bruce communicated with
the Commonwealth Government regarding a suggestion which had been
made to him that a home might be found in Australia for some at
least of these Assyrians. Copies are enclosed of the note which
was prepared for Mr. Bruce by the Foreign Office. Copies are also
enclosed of an exhaustive memorandum by the Foreign Office on this
subject dated April, 1937, and of a more recent memorandum dated
February 1944. [2]

2. As the Commonwealth Government will be aware the problem of the
resettlement of this community is one which has given the United
Kingdom Government concern since 1937 when some informal
discussions took place with Australian Ministers who were in
London in that year. It was ascertained at that time that there
was then no prospect of facilities being offered for the
settlement of Assyrians anywhere in Australia.

3. The matter has recently been given active consideration in view
of the part played by Assyrian levies in the late war and efforts
have been made in many quarters to explore the possibility of
securing a satisfactory settlement for these people to whom, as
indicated in the documents enclosed, the United Kingdom Government
have a strong moral obligation. These efforts have, however, so
far been without success.

4. In the light of the recent movement in favour of giving
assistance for the resettlement of displaced persons generally the
United Kingdom Government feel it incumbent upon them to make a
further approach to Dominion Governments on behalf of the Assyrian
community. The United Kingdom Government therefore hope that in
any consideration which the Commonwealth Government may be giving
towards the possibility of providing help for the resettlement of
displaced persons, they will give specially sympathetic
consideration to the claims of the Assyrian community.

Official Secretary

1 E. J. Williams.

2 Enclosures not published.

[AA:A1067, M46/10/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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