384.11/23: Telegram

The Chargé in Ethiopia (Engert) to the Secretary of State

70. British Minister yesterday called a meeting of representatives of British missionary organizations at which he requested me and representatives of American institutions to be present. He announced [Page 880] that he had arranged with the Ethiopian Government for the concentration if and when the necessity arose of British missionaries at certain convenient points in the interior where missions are already located. Should the situation later require it they would all be brought to Addis Ababa.

The arrangement implies that the British Legation would not for the present issue definite instructions that outlying stations be evacuated but that the Ethiopian Government will itself take the initiative in suggesting it when it is felt that it could no longer guarantee their safety. This does not, of course, preclude evacuation whenever the Legation or the missionaries themselves desire it.

This plan has much to commend itself as it is obviously intended to avoid a panic or to show premature lack of confidence in the authorities. I shall, unless the Department instructs to the contrary, make a similar arrangement as regards American missionaries reserving, of course, complete liberty of action with respect to suggesting immediate evacuation at any time the Legation may deem it advisable. Details by mail.