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Mr. Roger Casale (Wimbledon): Does my hon. Friend welcome the doubling of funds by the British Government to help to meet the costs of the refugee crisis? Does he accept that a further doubling of funds may be necessary very soon? Will he give the House some assessment of the resources that should be made available immediately and in the longer term for the management of the refugee crisis and the eventual rebuilding of Kosovo?

Mr. Worthington: Of course I welcome the doubling of the funds. What I am trying to get across in my speech is the fact that we cannot approach this matter only on the military and the humanitarian front. A major improvement of the infrastructure is required, and that cannotbe organised by NGOs. It must be done by major international organisations, such as the World bank and the European Union, but I need convincing that they are geared up for what will happen not in the coming months, but in the coming weeks so that they can provide what is needed for the Balkan winter.

I came back from the Balkans with mixed emotions: anger at the despicable actions of Milosevic; admiration for the courage of the refugees; intense respect for the humanitarian work of UN organisations, such as the World Food Programme; pride in the work being done by the British NGOs; and admiration for the organisational skills of NATO in rescuing the humanitarian situation. I came back utterly determined that we should recognise and respond to all the dimensions of this problem, and not merely restrict ourselves to the humanitarian and military aspects. Much more is needed.

11.14 am

Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): I was not on the Select Committee visit to the Balkans at the beginning of last week, because I had already accepted an invitation to visit Tirana in Albania, sponsored by the European Children's Trust. After consultation with the Chairman of the Select Committee, I felt that that would add an extra dimension and provide a different view of what is going on out there, so I went on my own to Tirana.

In passing, I should like to mention the European Children's Trust, which gave me the only good news of my visit. It has been working in Romania since the problems there began, and it is now closing orphanages because it has found good foster homes for the children. Many of their natural parents who abandoned them have come back to claim them. I wanted to begin on a bright note to show that there is a little light at the end of some of these tunnels.

Tirana was away from the front line, which was interesting because the refugees there had had an opportunity to reflect on their future and had recovered a

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little from the initial shock, although they were still pretty dazed. The city council in Tirana was assessing what was needed for its own people and for the refugees. In 1997, the population of Tirana was 250,000, and it had the infrastructure--social services, education and health services--that more or less catered for that number. By 1999, the population had almost doubled to 450,000, and in the past month, 43,000 refugees have come into Tirana city--25 per cent. of the population have come to Tirana in a few weeks. Of those refugees, 33 per cent. are in host families--they are staying with anyone who will have them.

Host families in Albania have an average income of £15 a month, and some of them are catering for two or three families. I visited the Sipri family, who are a family of three. They are unemployed, because there is very little work in Tirana. They live in a tiny, two-roomed flat, and because of their son's long-standing link with a family of six, including two children, they welcomed them into their tiny flat and were feeding and coping with them on £15 a month.

I also visited what was described to me as a model refugee camp. It was a small camp on the site of the old Tirana municipal swimming pool, which no longer had any water in it. It was built for 2,000 by UNHCR, but it already had 3,000 refugees in it and others were moving in every day. When I visited, the mud was drying up and the sun was coming out, so it was looking a little better, but there were 20 latrines for more than 3,000 people which, as the hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) reminded us, could cause infections and other problems in the summer months. It was desperately overcrowded, and there were no cooking facilities and no hot water. I think that the Select Committee saw a better refugee camp in Rwanda when we visited that country last year. The camp I saw in Tirana was appalling, yet it was described as a model camp.

The men in the camp were unanimous: they wanted to have guns and to join the Kosovo Liberation Army so that they could get back to Kosovo to fight for freedom. On the whole, the women wanted to stay in Albania, because they had small children. They were also worried about their families, and they wanted to stay put until they knew what had happened to them.

I visited a women's hospital with its director, Dr. Kallajxhi. It was one of the worst places I have ever seen; Florence Nightingale would have been ashamed. It is the main women's hospital for Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It was dirty, there were building works all over the place--even above and below the wards where women were giving birth--and very few painkillers were available, so the women who had suffered so much coming out of Kosovo were not getting any relief in childbirth. Most of the equipment was 20 years old.

The hospital was catering for the people of Tirana as well as for the refugees, which made it difficult because it did not have the staff. Many of the women were having abortions: many were having to have extensive gynaecological repairs and some were having hysterectomies because of the damage they had suffered after having been raped by Serbian soldiers. It was a distressing visit, and quite honestly the conditions in that hospital beggared belief.

At the end of my visit, I met Mr. Orhan Sakiqi, who is the head of the Tirana municipal council, and together we came to some conclusions. I appreciate that this is a small

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area of the whole problem, but I felt that it would be useful to list the things that we believed were needed, especially in the medium and long term.

According to all those to whom I spoke, registration is a problem. As has been said, the UNHCR is not considered to be performing terribly well in Albania. Most of the refugees whom I met in Tirana had no papers, because they were not being processed--as we were told that they were--as the refugees crossed the border. The refugees were stuck with host families, with no identity and no papers. Some would like to come to the United Kingdom, but not many, because few of their friends and families are here owing to the United Kingdom's asylum and immigration policies over the past 10 years. That is one of the reasons why a number of them want to go to Germany. That is our fault, and we should be doing something about it.

The Sipri family, whom I visited, would like to go to Germany, where they have relatives, but they cannot do so because they have no papers. No one seemed to know how to remedy the problem, even the people in the municipality.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): There is no substitute for direct evidence. Let me ask a question, without any overtones. The hon. Lady spoke of rapes committed by Serbian soldiers. There seems to be considerable dispute about that, and I do not know the truth. Doubtless some rapes have taken place, but did the hon. Lady have direct evidence of rape committed by Serbian soldiers on a significant scale?

Dr. Tonge: I appreciate that it is a difficult question. Before I came to the House, I worked in gynaecology and family planning, and I know that it is sometimes difficult to assess the truth of what people say. Because I was in the area for only a short time, I heard the story directly from only a few people, but the evidence is that the same story is being told all over the place by all sorts of women who have had no contact with each other. A fortnight ago, some of us met two professionals, a paediatrician and a journalist, who had come from Kosovo. They had a good deal of evidence. There is certainly medical evidence in the hospital to which I referred that women have been brutalised, raped and then mutilated, and it was alleged that the Serbs had done it. That is all that I can say in answer to the hon. Gentleman.

Let me return to the problem of identity. The Government must put pressure on the UNHCR to get its act together and ensure that those people are registered.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): What my hon. Friend has said about the camps in Albania coincides with my experience in Macedonia. Record keeping and being able to trace refugees and record their stories are indeed problems, but, now that the necessary information technology is available, could that not be done largely out of country? Should not western countries be employing people to maintain databases, and relieve some of the pressure on the Albanians, the Macedonians and the relief agencies?

Dr. Tonge: The thought crossed my mind as well. I cannot see why the details of people's past lives,

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homes and businesses cannot be recorded in England or Germany as easily as in Tirana or somewhere in Macedonia. I agree with my hon. Friend: surely computer technology could help. This is one of the most urgent problems for the refugees, who do not know where to turn, and are forced to remain non-people. They do not exist, and it is not possible to help people who do not exist.

As I have said, I was appalled by the state of the refugee camps. I am sure that our Government are putting pressure on the UNHCR to improve them, but I was interested by the Albanians' suggestion that smaller camps should be built to reflect the village communities that existed in Kosovo, and to keep people together so that they could give each other support.

One of my main worries is the lack of help for the tens of thousands of host families in Albania who are trying to manage on meagre incomes and looking after all the refugees. I do not know how long their patience will last. The European Children's Trust has developed a scheme whereby families' needs are assessed and a recommendation is made; they are then given direct financial help to buy food which is available in Albania, and any other supplies that they need. I urge our Government in particular to consider schemes that would enable us to help host families directly to support the refugees.

As for education, health and social services, there is a network--in other countries that we visited, there is no such network--but it is entirely inadequate. There are thousands of refugee doctors, nurses and teachers who can work and want to help their own people, but there is the matter of paying them a little to do so. Pressure should be put on all the authorities to mobilise the professionals in the refugee group to help with social services in Albania.

There is also an urgent need for medical equipment and medicines. I hope that our constituencies, including mine, will want to do something identifiable, rather than just giving money to an anonymous appeal. They could, for instance, focus on a hospital that badly needs updating, and some decent equipment and medicines. Europe, and our Government, could help with that as well.

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