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Kosovars free to go any time.



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Media Release

The Hon Philip Ruddock, MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

 

MPS103/99

 

KOSOVARS FREE TO GO AT ANY TIME

 

 

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today repeated that not only were the Kosov ars free to go home at any time, but some people who had needed to return home urgently had already left Australia.

 

The Minister said he had heard reports that a man in Tasmania was planning a hunger strike because he wanted to go home.

 

“There is absolutely no reason for this man to be on a hunger strike. Last week, when this matter was drawn to my Department’s attention, staff began arranging for the man to return to his family in Kosovo and he is expected to leave by the end of the week,” Mr Ruddock said.

 

“Staff have begun the sometimes difficult task of arranging travel documents for the man. They have also begun to liaise with international organisations to ensure the route the man will take, and his final destination, are safe environments.

 

“In fact, another man will leave Tasmania on Thursday for Kosovo because of urgent family matters.

 

“If the Kosovars have a pressing reason to return immediately, they are free to do so. However, these people were evacuated to Australia at the request of the UNHCR and clearly we will continue to consult with the UNHCR on when the time might be right for their return home,” Mr Ruddock said.

 

“What we want to ensure is that they are returned to a safe environment where they can quickly resume their lives.

 

“Reports show that in terms of the return of people to Kosovo, the priority for international organisations is the some hundreds of thousands of people living in camps on the borders.

 

“However, as I said, should individual Kosovars have a pressing need to return immediately, we will pay for their transport and arrange their travel documents” Mr Ruddock concluded.

 

ENDS

Tuesday 29 June 1999

 

Media inquiries Susan Sare 0407 415 797

 

 

jk  1999-07-01  10:54