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Kosovo: Enforced Returns During Winter

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 14 December 2000

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will enforce the return of Kosovan nationals back to Kosovo during the winter period. [HL168]

In response to a request to host countries by the United Nations Authorities in Kosovo (UNMIK) to cease enforcing the return of Kosovans to Kosovo during the severe Balkan winter, we have given this careful consideration and decided that a wholesale suspension of enforced returns back to Kosovo would not be justified. We do not accept that single people or couples who have put forward manifestly unfounded applications and who may, for example, have arrived in the United Kingdom in recent months and long after peace was secured in Kosovo and who have families and homes there, could not return to them. But we have agreed to suspend temporarily the enforced return of families with children or vulnerable dependants or other vulnerable cases in recognition of the difficulties that larger family groups and vulnerable people may present to UNMIK in terms of providing support and accommodation during the winter period.This position has been fully explained to UNMIK, who have also been assured that in line with their previous request we will continue to inform them of returns in advance where it is possible to do so. UNMIK have said they understand our position and have expressed gratitude for the considered way in which the United Kingdom has approached the accommodation problems in Kosovo.