Leading article: You can make a difference

BY YESTERDAY, Independent readers had raised pounds 150,000 for disaster relief in Central America, devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

After this week's rather pointless spat about whether or not writing off debts owed by the governments of Honduras and Nicaragua was "relevant" to the immediate needs of the homeless, hungry and ill, it is gratifying to see private citizens responding so generously. Politicians should attend to the long-term causes of world poverty, and mobilise some taxpayers' money in crises; but in an emergency like this one, a real contribution can be made by individuals.

Keep the cheques coming in to the Disaster Appeal (see page 18, front section), and make a difference on the still sodden ground.