Britain attacked for ignoring Bosnia refugees

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The Independent Online
AS TRAINS bearing some 5,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina began arriving in Germany over the weekend, MPs across the political spectrum castigated other European Community countries - including Britain - for not agreeing to accept their share of those fleeing from the fighting.

Klaus Kinkel, Germany's Foreign Minister, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he was 'furious' at EC countries who were resisting the idea of refugee quotas and that he would try 'with all (his) might' to secure Community-wide agreement on the issue this week. Other German politicians lashed out at Britain, France, Spain and the Benelux countries. 'We accept 5,000, the English take none, the French take none and Spain announces it will take in 100 as an act of charity,' said Peter Gauweiler, of the right- wing Christian Social Union in Bavaria.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Yugoslavia last year, an estimated 2.3 million people have been displaced. Although most remain within the region, nearly half a million have fled outside and 200,000 have been given sanctuary in Germany, making it by far the biggest recipient in Europe. Other countries accepting large numbers include Hungary (60,000), Austria (50,000), Sweden (44,000) and Switzerland (40,000). Italy and Norway have taken 2,000 each while Britain has accepted 1,300.

With the number of refugees growing daily and the capacity of neighbouring countries to cope already stretched to breaking point, Germany has led the call for the imposition of EC-wide quotas. When Mr Kinkel put the idea to his Community colleagues last week, six agreed to it, three did not and three did not want to commit themselves, according to foreign ministry sources in Bonn. Chancellor Helmut Kohl subsequently appealed directly to each EC head to approve the quota proposal, which he asked John Major, as acting president of the EC, to co-ordinate.

The latest wave of refugees is nearly all Bosnian Muslims, victims of the Serbian guerrilla fighters' policy of 'ethnic cleansing' being conducted in Bosnian territories now under their control. Their plight is to be at the top of the agenda of a special conference opening in Geneva on Wednesday, which has been called by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Gorazde mission fails, page 10