Letter: No safe haven here

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Sir: It is right that we should be giving all possible aid and support to the people of Kosovo: but we should not at the same time be uncaring towards victims of similar conflicts elsewhere.

This week I was at the Immigration Appellate Authority at Feltham in London to give evidence on behalf of a refugee from Sierra Leone. An obviously unsympathetic adjudicator said she did not wish to hear evidence about the situation in that war-torn country, which was "in the public domain". She knew it already. Such omniscience was in fact unlikely, as news from Kosovo has blocked out reporting of similar tragedies in Africa.

The appeal was peremptorily dismissed, yet how can this young man be returned to a country where thousands have been killed and maimed just for being there, and many more thousands have lost everything as their homes have been destroyed?

Human rights are universal and humanitarian concern should be worldwide.


London SE16

The writer was British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, 1986-91