HC Deb 10 May 1999 vol 331 cc14-6W
12. Ms Squire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current security situation in Kosovo. [82589]

Mr. George Robertson

Serbian forces continue their brutality against Kosovar Albanians. Over one million have been forced from their homes. The UNHCR report that approximately 800,000 are now resident in temporary camps outside Kosovo or in countries elsewhere. A further 350,000 to 800,000 are thought to be internally displaced seeking refuge and safety in Kosovo.

15. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated tonnage of ordnance dropped on oil and chemical plants in Yugoslavia since 24 March; and what estimate he has made of resulting emissions of(a) ammonia, (b) benzene, (c) chlorine, (d) mercury, (e) phosgene and (f) sulphur dioxide. [82592]

Mr. George Robertson

I am withholding information on the tonnage of ordnance dropped in Yugoslavia since 24 March under exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. We take the need to avoid dangerous emissions from nuclear and chemical plants fully into account in making decisions about targets. The UK will comply with its obligations under the First Geneva Protocol.

22. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to date. [82600]

Mr. George Robertson

NATO's military action has had significant impact on Yugoslav military and special police operations and continues to do so. The air campaign is moving systematically and progressively to disrupt the violence and degrade President Milosevic's forces, his sustaining infrastructure, command and control and other targets associated with his system of repression.

Ms Dari Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role British troops are playing in assisting the humanitarian relief effort for Kosovar Albanian refugees. [82610]

Mr. Doug Henderson

The UK will continue to play a leading role in responding to the humanitarian crisis in the region.

British troops in Macedonia have been assisting refugees since the beginning of April. They are continuing to prepare and distribute food and to supply blankets, nappies and other essential items. UK troops have also been involved in improving infrastructure at the refugee camps. This has included erecting tents and shelters, digging latrines, laying water pipes, removing rubbish, erecting fences and constructing tracks and bridges.

Today we plan to make available some 1,000 UK troops, currently in Macedonia, to assist in the humanitarian aid effort in Albania, where they will work with troops from other NATO nations to construct camps for up to 65,000 refugees. These camps will be handed over to Non Governmental Organisations to administer as soon as they have been established.

23. Mr. David Heath

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role British troops are currently playing in providing humanitarian support in south-east Europe. [82601]

Mr. Doug Henderson

In south-east Europe, British troops are providing humanitarian support in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in Albania. For the details of their role, I refer The hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Ms Taylor) today,Official Report, column 140.

Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what quantities of(a) food, (b) medical equipment and (c) temporary accommodation have been provided by (i) United Kingdom military forces and (ii) NATO forces to refugees in (1) Macedonia, (2) Montenegro and (3) Albania since the outset of the NATO action in Yugoslavia; and what has been the cost to date of such assistance. [81944]

Mr. George Robertson

UK forces have not yet provided any assistance to refugees in Montenegro. In Albania and Macedonia UK forces have played a key role in alleviating the refugee crisis. In Albania this has not as yet involved provision of food, medical supplies or temporary accommodation. In Macedonia, full details of the quantities are not available, but estimated costs to date under the relevant headings are as follows:

(a) food 2,500,000
(b) medical supplies 37,000
(c) temporary accommodation 95,000

The Department for International Development will reimburse MOD for the above costs, and has assumed responsibility for future assistance. We do not have records of the value of assistance supplied by other NATO nations.

Mr. Blunt

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many additional(a) major units and (b) trained soldiers the Army would require to sustain 24-month tour intervals if operational deployments to Kosovo/ Macedonia/Albania and Bosnia are sustained at current levels indefinitely. [83139]

Mr. George Robertson

[holding answer 4 May 1999]: This would depend on the circumstances of particular operations, the overall level of operational commitment and progress towards achieving full manning.

Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received on the identity of the perpetrators of war crimes in Kosovo. [83402]

Mr. George Robertson

It is for the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague to seek indictments against individuals she believes have been responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo. The Government will hand over as much information as they can that will be relevant to the Tribunal's investigations.

Mr. Wareing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of the extent of collateral damage caused by NATO air raids in(a) the Belgrade suburb of Banjica and (b) Aleksinac. [83490]

Mr. George Robertson

[holding answer 7 May 1999]: We do not have any information on collateral damage to the Belgrade suburb of Banjica.

As NATO has said, a military facility was struck at Aleksinac, home of the 203rd mixed artillery brigade. Despite meticulous pre-attack planning, it is possible that one weapon fell short of the target. (I am placing in the Library of the House a full transcript of what was said on the subject by a NATO spokesman at a press conference on 6 April 1999).

Unlike President Milosevic, we take great care to reduce the risk of casualties and collateral damage. If there has been any unintended damage to civilian property or loss of life we regret this, but NATO's military actions are the result of Milosevic's brutal policy of ethnic cleansing.