MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
15 April 1999
U.N. Efforts To Secure Release Of Australian Aid Workers
I am naturally very pleased that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has written to the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Zivodin Jovanovic, expressing deep concern over the arrest and continued detention of Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace.
The Secretary General has asked that Australia be granted immediate consular access to the two men and for their earliest possible release with a guarantee of safe passage out of Yugoslavia.
Mr Annan has also expressed concern at the prolonged detention of the two Australians and pointed out that their detention may have an adverse effect of the UN's ability to provide humanitarian aid to civilian victims of the current conflict.
I am also pleased that the UN Security Council has expressed concern at the fate of the two detained Australians.
Members of the Security Council, earlier this morning Australian time, expressed their deepest concern at the grave humanitarian situation in and around Kosovo and reiterated their support for the work of humanitarian agencies. They issued an appeal to all parties to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.
Members of the Council also called for immediate consular access to Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace and called on the Secretariat to follow up.
These are encouraging developments as they signal clearly
to the Yugoslav government the international community's concern
at the detention of the two Australians. Moreover the action
in the UN demonstrates that the international community rejects
totally the attempt by the Yugoslav authorities to use innocent
humanitarian workers as pawns in a grotesque propaganda game.
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Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500
Department - Tony Melville / Geoff Leach 02 6261 2912
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