HC Deb 07 November 1995 vol 265 c814W
Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are being made for the reception and support of those additional people whom he announced on 6 August the Government had accepted under the temporary protection programme for people from the former Yugoslavia. [42218]

Mr. Kirkhope

On 28 July this year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees wrote to a number of Governments asking for further 5,000 temporary protection places for citizens of the former Yugoslavia. In view of the pressing humanitarian need, my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary announced on 6 August that the United Kingdom would accept 500 people, principals and dependants, under the programme. This was an addition to the 1,000 vulnerable people and their dependants accepted under the previous programme announced in November 1992. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries in the world to respond to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' request.

The UNHCR will continue to be responsible for identifying those who are most in need of temporary protection. The first group arrived on 5 October and arrangements are in hand to bring in a further group shortly. The Home Office is continuing to liaise with UNHCR about the timing of further arrivals.

The Home Office is funding the Refugee Council and other voluntary agencies to support these new arrivals, by running reception centres to accommodate them on arrival, arranging more permanent housing and providing support in the community. Two centres have been opened and two more will open in November. On leaving the reception centres the evacuees will be housed, as were those on the current programme, in "clusters" which enable them to support each other but do not place an undue burden on local services. Programmes are being established to involve volunteers in the work of reception centres and in providing community help such as sports, social and cultural events.

A request was also received from the International Organisation for Migration for the United Kingdom and other countries to accept for treatment sick and wounded people from the former Yugoslavia. The United Kingdom has agreed to accept a further 20 medical evacuees. Three patients have so far arrived under this programme.

In addition to the temporary protection programme, the Home Office continues to examine carefully asylum applications made in the United Kingdom by people from the former Yugoslavia. Up to the end of June more than 12,000 people had applied for asylum. The Government's policy remains that those refused asylum will not be expected to return to a war zone, but will be granted leave to remain exceptionally until it is safe for them to return.