§ Lord Judd
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What action they are taking together with other governments and international organisations to ensure that refugees and displaced people from Kosovo who are members of minority ethnic groups such as the Roma, Ashkalia and Serbs are not directly or indirectly encouraged to return to Kosovo without understanding the reality of the situation which awaits them; and [HL3801]
What action they are taking together with other governments and international organisations to ensure that the return of refugees and displaced people to Kosovo is genuinely voluntary, co-ordinated with the authorities on the spot, and effectively related to the security situation and to the economic and social capacity to absorb returnees with meaningful prospect of a decent lifestyle; and [HL3802]
What action they are taking together with other governments and international organisations to discourage the return of refugees and displaced people to Kosovo during the winter months. [HL3803]
§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
The Government recognises that the security situation of ethnic minorities such as Roma, Ashkalia and Serbs in Kosovo remains precarious. All asylum applications are considered on their individual merits and returns would not be enforced or encouraged unless it was considered safe to do so. This approach is consistent with United Nations High Commission for Refugees212WA (UNHCR) advice and is followed by most other European governments. Information about the situation for these groups in Kosovo is widely available from a range of sources, but clear advice would be given to any individuals applying for the Home Office voluntary returns programme.
Returns to Kosovo from this country will be on a phased and managed basis and we encourage other host countries to adopt a similar approach. Every assistance has been provided to those people who wish to return to Kosovo permanently, in the form of two voluntary assisted return programmes. If necessary, we enforce the return of those who, following any appeal, are judged to have no humanitarian or protection reasons for needing to remain longer in the United Kingdom. Such returns will take account of all the circumstances at the time, including the weather conditions in Kosovo. Arrangements have been set up to inform the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in advance of Kosovans being forcibly returned to Kosovo.