The Vice Consul at Aden (Chiperfield) to the Secretary of State

No. 115

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s confidential instruction dated December 16, 1937,2 enclosing a copy of a despatch of the American Ambassador at Rome entitled “Protestant Missions in Ethiopia”,3 and inviting comment thereon.

Under date of December 13, 1937, the Consulate submitted despatch No. 108,4 entitled “Conditions in Ethiopia”, in which certain comments were made regarding the treatment of American missionaries in that country. Unfortunately, little additional information is now available, and the undersigned has heard no reports regarding the proposed advisory committee of Protestant Ethiopian Missions in Rome.

Whether the American Protestant Mission in Addis Ababa will approve of this plan of an advisory committee and cooperate is not known, but it appears from such information as is before this office that the Italians are determined eventually to “take over” the work of all foreign missions in Ethiopia. The missionaries are being slowly pushed from the country, largely by Italian restriction of their activities and the forced sale of Mission property to the Italian authorities. The restrictions, such as prohibition of travel outside of Addis Ababa, or other cities, applies equally to all civilians, and is equally irksome to business men in that country. In the case of the missionaries, of course, it has put an end to all of their field work. In regard to the forced sale of Mission property, it is understood that in some cases the Italian authorities have simply served notice that certain property or residences will be required for official use in the near future, and a fair price has been paid the Mission. There is an acute housing [Page 711]shortage now in Addis Ababa, and it appears almost impossible for the missionaries to obtain other suitable living quarters and clinics. It is believed, however, that the Italian authorities have similarly acquired other property from aliens in business at Addis Ababa, and not solely from missionaries.

The American Mission (United Presbyterian) at Addis Ababa, until last month at least, has had none of their property acquired by the Italians, but it is understood that the Sudan Interior Mission and the Seventh Day Adventist Mission have had to give up certain property. There is the likelihood of kindlier treatment to the American group because it is representative of a nonsanctionist country. The Sudan Interior Mission is half American, however, and now has at least seven American missionaries in Addis Ababa.

Mr. Duff, the American head of the Sudan Interior Mission at Addis Ababa predicted in a conversation with the undersigned about five weeks ago that by the end of 1938 no American missionaries, at least, would be left in Ethiopia. In my despatch No. 108 the names of all American missionaries now in Ethiopia were listed. It is believed that at the present time there are 22 American missionaries and 2 American children in Addis Ababa. While the missionaries have been slowing [slowly] leaving Ethiopia for some time, singly or in small groups, this office has heard of no case where any of these persons has been actually expelled by the Italian authorities.

It seems very doubtful that any of the foreign missions will continue much longer in Ethiopia due to the difficulties confronting them. Possibly some feel that as the Italians are taking over certain hospital work, their services might be more useful and needed in other fields.

Respectfully yours,

C. B. Chiperfield
  1. Not printed.
  2. Despatch No. 668, November 26, 1937, Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, p. 714.
  3. Ibid., p. 716.