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Kosovo

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Albanians have been (a) arrested, (b) charged and (c) convicted in Kosovo of being involved in the destruction of Orthodox churches since June 1999. [103461]

[holding answer of 18 March]:.There have been no Albanians arrested, charged, or convicted, in Kosovo for being involved in the destruction of Orthodox churches.I told Kosovo Albanian leaders during my visits to the province that the destruction of churches and all religious sites were acts of barbarism which bring shame and dishonour to all concerned. NATO-led KFOR continues to patrol and guard churches.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is available for Serbs who were forced to leave Kosovo to return to the province in respect of (a) accommodation and (b) security. [103462]

[holding answer 18 March 2003]: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) co-ordinates sustainable returns of all Internally Displaced Persons and refugees to Kosovo, including Serbs. The UNHCR, as well as cross-border Non-Governmental Organisations and local authorities, provide information on all aspects of the return process, including on accommodation and security, as well as public services, economic opportunities, and acceptance by the existing communities. It is ultimately a decision for each individual as to whet her to return to Kosovo, based on the information provided by these agencies.We recognise the problems facing Kosovo Serbs. Though returns have clearly not been sufficient, United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), under the leadership of Michael Steiner, has established an Office for Returns and Communities, and a Strategy for Sustainable Returns for 2003. UNMIK and the NATO-led KFOR provide security within the Province.