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Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to prevent acts of violence against members of the Serb community in Kosovo. [124421]

A key priority for United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), embodied in their mandates from UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is to create a safe and secure environment for all Kosovo's citizens. Overall, statistics for the first five months of 2003 showed a continuous decrease of serious crime in Kosovo. This includes a reduction in ethnically motivated attacks, though any such crime continues to be a cause for concern.KFOR continues to use its troop presence to prevent attacks on minorities. For example, in Multinational Brigade East 190 security patrols are mounted every day, 65 checkpoints are manned and 64 facilities, such as Serb patrimonial sites, are guarded. KFOR also conducts air surveillance, response to emergency calls, search operations, border control, escorts for Serbs, and support to UNMIK Police in investigation of criminal activities and arrest or detention of suspected criminals. The Kosovo Police Service (KPS) has also been established as a genuinely multi-ethnic force working alongside international police to help deter violence and build confidence.A key step in Kosovo's progress is to ensure that ethnically motivated violence is considered unacceptable. In building a tolerant society that can provide security for all its minorities, Kosovo Albanian leaders and political parties are publicly condemning acts of violence that appear to be ethnically motivated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) Serbs and (b) other minorities have returned to Kosovo in the past year. [124422]

United Nations Mission in Kosovo figures indicate that in 2002 there were 2,756 returns: 966 Serbs, 390 Roma, 884 Ashkali/Egyptians, 149 Bosniaks, 73 Gorani and 294 Kosovo Albanians returned to areas where they are a minority. During the first five months of 2003, 437 Serbs, 330 Roma/Ashkali/ Egyptians, 133 Bosniaks, 31 Gorani and 61 Kosovo Albanians returned to Kosovo. This is a total of 992 returns, up from 874 during the same period last year.