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Minister farewells Kosovars returning home.



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Media Release

The Hon Philip Ruddock, MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

 

Friday, 23 July 1999

MPS 109/99

 

MINISTER FAREWELLS KOSOVARS RETURNING HOME

 

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, this mornin g farewelled the first charter flight of Kosovars to leave Australia since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that it was safe for Kosovars to return home on a voluntary basis.

 

Mr Ruddook said 294 Kosovars were due to depart Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport at 10.30am, including 115 from Puckapunyal (Vic), 75 from Portsea (Vic), 55 from Singleton (NSW), 40 from Bandiana (Vic) and 9 from East Hills (NSW).

 

“The UNHCR has indicated that conditions in Kosovo are sufficiently secure for it to coordinate the voluntary return of evacuees,’ Mr Ruddock said.

 

“The Kosovars are eager to be reunited with their family and friends and to begin re-building their lives.”

 

Some 111 Kosovars have already returned home in small groups on Qantas commercial flights, with more to follow, the Minister said.

 

“Arrangements are being made, in consultation with the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for the large-scale return of Kosovars home, mainly using special charter flights.”

 

The Minister said that IOM has the responsibility for organising return flights, and in this case, Air Kampuchea would be flying directly into Skopje.

 

“The second charter flight is due to leave next week with others following over the coming weeks.”

 

The first charter flight will travel from Sydney to Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where buses will be waiting to take passengers to cities and regional centres.

 

ENDS

 

Media inquiries:

Susan Sare 0407 415 797

 

 

md 1999-07-26  09:31