Bosnian Orphans

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East 12:00 am, 22nd March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the fate of Bosnian orphans; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

We have received a number of representations and share the deep concern felt by many in this country about the fate of children who have been orphaned in the tragic conflict in Bosnia.

Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the concerns of British couples who are prepared to adopt orphans abandoned by mothers who have been raped by Serbian soldiers? Will he confirm that up to 20,000 women were so violated?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

I cannot confirm the figures that my hon. Friend cites, but I can say that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health has taken a close interest in this particular tragic matter and has made it clear that, in appropriate cases, his Department will help with the adoption of children who have been conceived as a result of rape.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

Does the Minister recall the suggestion of His Holiness the Pope that Bosnian Muslim women who had been raped should bear their children? Given that many of us found that offensive, what steps do the Government propose to take now to counsel those women who decide to take the Pope's advice?

Photo of Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd Mr Mark Lennox-Boyd , Morecambe and Lunesdale

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, a report was carried out by Dame Anne Warburton into that dreadful area. The ODA has commissioned Marie Stopes International to examine the practical problems of managing and implementing the recommendations made by the Warburton mission in Bosnia.