Ethiopia offers Britain land in exchange for Zeila port of Somaliland – 1946



Somalilandsun – Important document found in UK shows that Ethiopia offered Great Britain part of the Haud reserved area (areas close to Somaliland border) in exchange for Zeila port of Somaliland to have access to the red sea in 1946 .

The document is dated August 6 , 1946 and was sent to Sir Norman Brook , His Britannic Majesty’s Government by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Colonies :

Here is a summary made of the correspondence by Mohamed Ali-medeshi:

1- The Ethiopians came up with a proposal that if a corridor to the sea , to the port of Zeila in British Somaliland, could be given to Ethiopia , they would in turn , be prepared to cede to British Somaliland part of the Ogaden in exchange . They said that Ethiopia was ready to convene a conference on Lake Tana and to have a Boundary Commission at once meet the British governments requirements in respect of the ratification of frontiers on the Kenya and Sudan borders which have been continuing source of trouble for many years.

2- That it would be helpful to consider the Ethiopian proposal for an exchange of territory in Bristish Somaliland since the Kenya and Sudan governments have little or nothing to offer in exchange for the ratification which they seek .

3- In respect of of British Somaliland , the Ethiopian proposals offer good prospects of meeting , to a very considerable extent , the long standing requirement of the British Somali tribes for free and undisturbed access to grazing areas essential to their livelihood

4-We are anxious , now that the Ethiopian government have themselves moved in the matter, to seize the opportunity which may not recur, of rectifying the injustice done to the British Somali tribes by the treaty with Ethiopia in 1897 which left their grazing grounds on the Ethiopian side of the frontier. We therefore think it desirable to open negotiations on the general basis proposed by the Ethiopians without delay.

5- In addition to the interests of British Somaliland alone and our relations with Ethiopia , there are also certain extraneous factors to be taken into account . The first of these is the uncertain future of Italian Somaliland. The the territory which the Ethiopians have offered to Britain includes the only useful land communications between British and Italian Somaliland , and would be of considerable importance if , as a result of the eventual settlement of the Italian Colonies , Britain would find itself responsible for the Italian Somaliland.

6- French reactions have also to be taken into account , since French Somaliland lies on the other frontier of British Somaliland , and the proposed corridor would substitute Ethiopia for Great Britain as the neighbour of French Somaliland on this side. Moreover, the whole object of the Ethiopia’s proposal is to obtain direct access to the sea ,thereby by-passing the French port of Dijibouti and the French controlled railway which leads to it and which at present is Ethiopia’s main commercial outlet. It is therefore probable that the exchange of territory , if affected , would not be welcomed by the French.

Slightly condensed by M. Ali of

This document is of 19 pages and can be purchased online here :

British Somaliland. Proposals by Ethiopian Governm… CAB 129/12 or If you want to receive a copy, email Somaliland Sun at