6th April 1999
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued the following statement on the Kosovan crisis:
British Muslims are gravely concerned over the unfolding of the catastrophe in Kosova in which the majority of the population has been forcibly thrown out of their country in less than ten days. Ironically, this amounts to fulfilling the very objectives of the Milosevic regime which Nato is trying to thwart.
Whilst we welcome the overwhelming international response to bring relief to the victims of this unprecedented tragedy, we are also greatly alarmed by the policy of dispersing the Kosovan people away from their homeland even as far away as the United States.
This removal has immediate social implications. It creates doubts about the very future of Kosova as an ethnic Albanian entity, and, more importantly, it also sows suspicions about the intentions of the Nato powers. Like, for example, the majority of the Bosnians and the Palestinians, once a refugee always a refugee.
This removal of the Kosovan population needs to be stopped immediately. The real political and humanitarian solution of the refugee crisis should be to create a safe haven belt inside Kosova along its border with the neighbouring countries. This would prevent the development of a fait accompli with Kosova and allow Nato strategy sufficient time to produce the results.
As a short term measure, however, if Macedonia is unable to host more Kosovans than it has already done, then the rest should be located in Albania and the Government of Albania provided with all the necessary resources to look after them until they are able to return to their homes in peace, security and freedom.
The Muslim Council of Britain, therefore, calls upon Prime Minister Tony Blair to take an immediate lead to put an end to the policy of dispersal. It is also necessary to put in place iron-clad international guarantees and to lay down a timeframe within which all the Kosovans who have been expelled are enabled to return to Kosova, no matter the degree of ethnic cleansing that may have taken place. Kosova must return to Kosovans.
Never again should the international community accept the occupation of a territory through the expulsion and removal of its people.
After consulting the authorities involved, the MCB will be issuing a separate appeal to the Muslim community to cooperate with the local services in assisting the temporary stay of any Kosovan refugees who may be brought into this country.
MCB officials are meeting Mr Derek Fatchett, Minister at the Foreign Office, today, and will be conveying these concerns.