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Monday, June 14, 1999 Published at 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK

UK Politics

UK pledges £50m for Kosovo

UK troops make up a quarter of K-For

The UK is to give a further £50m to assist the return of Kosovan refugees to their homes, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has told MPs.

The money from the Department for International Development is in addition to £40m already committed for resettling refugees.

It will be spent on providing food, tents and blankets as well as on mine clearing and mines awareness education.

The cash from Clare Short's department will also go towards emergency water and electricity supplies and the provision of health services, including hospitals and health centres.

Kosovo: Special Report
In a Commons statement, Mr Cook paid tribute to the professionalism and efficiency of the UK troops who were making up one quarter of the K-For force.

He said Serb forces were withdrawing from Kosovo "broadly in line" with their agreement with Nato.

The warmth of the welcome given to the K-For force by Albanians spoke volumes "for the brutality and the terror from which our campaign has liberated them".

Mr Cook said: "We promised the refugees we would take them back to Kosovo under our protection.

[ image: Robin Cook: Hard work ahead]
Robin Cook: Hard work ahead
"We now have the opportunity to fulfil that promise and we will not slacken in our resolve and determination until we have helped them all go home."

He warned MPs to keep a sense of perspective over the Russian presence in Kosovo as there were only a couple of hundred of Russians compared to 14,000 K-For troops.

Both Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman Menzies Campbell expressed their concern about the Russian deployment in the province.

It was "plainly unsatisfactory" that Russian troops had entered Pristina without co-ordination with the alliance but their presence of the Russian troops has not interfered with the deployment of troops entering from Macedonia, said Mr Cook.

The foreign secretary said he had spoken to his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov who had agreed to no more surprise moves.

Negotiations were still continuing about the Russian's contribution to K-For, Mr Cook said.

Mr Cook said he welcome Russia working as partners but their forces must be as part of single integrated operation.

The international community now faced the major challenge of helping Kosovo recover, said Mr Cook.

That would be done by ensuring the security of all Kosovo's people, including Serbs, and providing relief to displaced persons.

[ image: Michael Howard: Congratulated the government]
Michael Howard: Congratulated the government
Thirdly, the international community must not be "glib" about returning refugees to their homes, many of which had been destroyed.

They now faced the major task of helping refugees rebuild their homes before the Balkan winter sets in, he said.

In addition, Mr Cook stressed the importance of the investigation by war crimes prosecutors.

Although peace had been brought to Kosovo, "the people will not live at peace with themselves" without these four steps being completed, he said.

Mr Cook continued: "There is much hardwork still to be done before we have created a Kosovo which will give its people the opportunity to earn their living in peace.

"The time to celebrate will be when we have settled all refugees in their homes. All those in the House who supported Nato's campaign can be satisfied with an outcome that has vindicated the strategy of the alliance and its resolve to defeat the forces of ethnic cleansing.

"We have compelled an end to the atrocities in Kosovo and secured a future for its people free from fear."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Howard congratulated the government and the armed forces.

But he said the recent developments also demonstrated the extent of the problem to be overcome.

The ultimate test of their success would be whether all the refugees could return home.

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