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Pell says let Kosovars stay in Australia

Cardinal George Pell has given his support to six Kosovar families of Albury-Wodonga whom local Catholics are backing in their fight against deportation to their homeland.

Visiting the NSW-Victorian border cities on Friday, Cardinal Pell commented on the fact that the Kosovars were not included among temporary protection visa holders recently given permission to stay in Australia.

The Kosovars were given a temporary welcome into Australia by Prime Minister John Howard during the crisis in their homeland in 1999. They were never treated officially as refugees and have remained because the Federal Government gave them time to recover from trauma.

"I would be surprised if they are forced to return," Cardinal Pell said. "They have been here five years."

"If they are law-abiding citizens, working productively and happily, and the local community wants them, I cant see any reason at all why they should be forcibly repatriated."

Local Catholics recently joined forces with small business owners, who believe that their forced departure would increase the region's labour shortage.

Phil Bretherton of Wodonga Catholic Parishes said earlier this month that since arriving in Albury-Wodonga five years ago as victims of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, the families are still in "visa limbo".

He said: "As those most traumatised by events in their former homeland, these families, many who have settled in regional areas, have had to deal with further uncertainty created by a bureaucracy, seemingly intransigent to their mental anguish.

"Most of these families have settled well into their communities and their recovery from torture and trauma has generally been aided because of substantial support provided by local communities. Many have had children in Australia and now have children attending Catholic schools.

Cardinal supports refugees (The Border Mail 21/8/04)

Tips to keep faith (The Border Mail 21/8/04)
Tensions irrelevant, but belief required (The Border Mail 21/8/04)
The Holy Family of Nazareth: a role model for refugees and the poor ( 21/8/04)
Refugee kids miss health care (AAP/Seven News 22/8/04)
Canadian Church shocked by minister's comments on asylum (The Tablet 21/8/04)
Sympathy shifting to asylum-seekers (The Australian 20/8/04)
Local church backs business calls for Kosovars to stay (CathNews 5/8/04)
Kosovar Refugees Need Support (Catholic Parishes of Wodonga 30/7/04)

23 Aug 2004