HL Deb 26 March 1998 vol 587 cc258-9WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they agree with the recommendation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that ethnic Albanians not qualifying for asylum should not be deported to Kosovo; and, if so, whether they will seek to achieve general agreement in western Europe on this point.[HL1046]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

In the United Kingdom, all claims for asylum are considered individually on their merits within the terms of the 1951 United Nations convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol, taking into account the latest information and advice on the country situation from a range of sources, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Where an application for asylum is refused, consideration is given to granting leave to remain exceptionally outside the immigration rules on humanitarian grounds. We have not recently returned to Kosovo any ethnic Albanians who have been refused asylum here.

There was detailed discussion on the situation in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, at the January meeting of the Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on Asylum held under the United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union. UNHCR was represented at that meeting and had the opportunity to explain the conditions prevailing in Kosovo at the time. UNHCR's latest advice on the situation in Kosovo, dated 9 March, has been made available to all governments. It is for individual governments to determine applications for asylum in accordance with their international obligations, in particular the 1951 United Nations convention and its 1967 protocol which are common to all member states of the European Union.