Letter: African tragedy

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Commenting on the "atrocity merchants" in Sierra Leone (letter, 9 August), Peter Pool says: "The country has seen little of the mineral wealth that has been exploited over the years because, again, poverty and the corruption engendered by it has meant no control of its resources".

So where are the benefits of the mineral wealth in Sierra Leone being seen?

Until those of us in the developed world who claim to be concerned about poverty and famine in Africa are prepared to answer such questions, we contribute to the suffering we deplore and assist in the creation of "atrocity merchants".

Those who don't yet appreciate this, and who read French, will find the situation fully documented in L'Etau: L'Afrique dans un Monde Sans Frontieres by Aminata Traore, the Minister for Culture and Tourism in Mali (Actes Sud, 1999).

In this book she describes how the funding of the IMF, the World Bank and other "benevolent" Western institutions assists the interests of foreign investment at the expense of the creation of local economic infrastructures subject to local control.

DAVID KUHRT

London N8

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