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Hansard 27 April: Column 143 ...
Hansard 27 April: Column 143

Social services, the Refugee Council, police, the Immigration Service and Leeds Bradford Airport were praised by the government for the welcome they gave to planeload of Kosovan refugees who were evacuated to Leeds at the weekend.

Replying for the government to Lord Ahmed, who said 'the services provided for the refugees were the very best', Baroness Amos said: 'He has given me the opportunity to join with him in thanking not only the people of Leeds and Bradford, but also all the authorities who so very positively responded to the refugees who arrived over the weekend. We have put the arrangements for receiving of refugees in the UK into the hands of the Refugee Council, which has been tasked by the home secretary with putting in place a special reception service for refugees who are arriving here under the UNHCR humanitarian evacuation programme'.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers said it was important that the UK should not be seen as less generous as other countries in granting temporary admission.

The minister said the first priority was to ensure refugees received care in the Balkans so they could return home more easily, but the government was concerned to try to keep Kosova families together. It had funded the Red Cross to put in place a family tracing service.

She added: 'We have set up a clear process with UNHCR. We have set up a range of criteria which UNHCR assess the basis on which it recommends that people should come to the UK. But we are firm in our resolve that refugees should be kept in the region as much as possible to expedite their return to Kosovo'.

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