Refugees and Human Rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:16 pm on 24th January 2018.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 3:16 pm, 24th January 2018

On 29 October 1992, I was the British United Nations commander in Bosnia. Outside my camp, I saw an increasing flow of people passing. The sentries counted 10,000 before I told them stop. There were women, children, old men, people in suits, people in carts, people in overloaded cars—I even saw a woman pulling a goat along. That sight gave me the main reason why we were in Bosnia: to save lives. I reckon that is a pretty good mission for the Department for International Development.

In the time available, I will mention my escort driver, so that his name is remembered. On 13 January 1993, I gave him instructions to take four women to hospital through the front lines. As he did so, he was shot and killed. The women made it to hospital and were saved. They were refugees. I remind the House of his name because he died doing perhaps the noblest thing anyone can do: saving people’s lives.

The refugees we helped in Bosnia normally stayed in the region, and that is important for refugees, because the chances of their getting home again are in inverse proportion to the distance they travel away from it. That is the reason for having the camps.