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Yugoslavia (Refugees)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many refugees from the Communist regime in Yugoslavia have arrived in the British zone of Austria; what arrangements are being made for the future of these people; how many of these refugees are so-called Volksdeutsche; what approaches have been made to the Yugoslav Government to stop the expulsion of these people in conditions of great cruelty; what replies have been received to these approaches; and what he estimates to he the future extent of this problem.

As the answer is necessarily very long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT

Can my hon. Friend say whether there is any evidence to support the allegation made in the Question that the Yugoslav Government are, in fact, expelling people under conditions of great cruelty?

I think that they have, at times, been expelled in conditions of unnecessary hardship.

Is the Minister aware that I myself was on the Yugoslavia border about six weeks ago, and I can confirm that they were being expelled under conditions of the utmost cruelty?

Following is the answer:

5,500 Yugoslavs have arrived in the British zone of Austria since the end of the war. Their ultimate disposal will he the concern of the International Refugee Organisation working in conjunction with the zonal authorities. In addition there are approximately 35,000 Yugoslav Volksdeutsche in the British zone who have either fled or been expelled from Yugoslavia.

His Majesty's Ambassador in Belgrade has repeatedly demanded that the Yugo- slav Government should halt these expulsions, which, as the hon. and gallant Member's Question implies, are often carried out in conditions of unnecessary hardship and are not sanctioned by any international agreement. Although the Yugoslav authorities have on many occasions given satisfactory assurances in reply to our representations, the unauthorised movement of Volksdeutsche into Austria from Yugoslavia still continues.

As regards the last part of the Question, it is believed that there remain considerable numbers of Volksdeutsche in Yugoslavia. There has been no international agreement as to their future and it is therefore impossible to estimate the future extent of the problem facing the British authorities in Austria.