Kosovo Refugees (Humanitarian Assistance)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 31st March 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn Labour, Chesterfield 3:31 pm, 31st March 1999

I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said about financial aid for the humanitarian crisis, but she will recognise that it is only a tiny fraction of what is spent on the war every day. Given the scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding—we see it day by day on our screen—which exceeds anything that anyone in this House can ever have experienced, is it not clear that the only organisation with the logistical and air movement capacity to deal with this matter is NATO itself?

Would it not be sensible immediately to divert the aircraft currently operated by NATO for the supply of weapons, and to take the opportunity provided by yesterday's visit to Belgrade by Mr. Primakov to cease hostilities, at least over Easter—which is very precious to the Orthodox Church—in order to save lives?

If the situation is not tackled with the organisational efficiency with which the war is being undertaken, people will die of disease and starvation, and it will not comfort anyone if Ministers are able to say, "Do not blame us; blame Milosevic". It does not matter who is to blame; lives need to be saved now, and the only way of doing that is to bring about a cessation of hostilities so that NATO can be diverted for this purpose.