Fear and hostility put TV refugee appeal at risk

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The Independent Online

Plans to launch a national appeal to raise money for up to seven million Afghan refugees are being hampered by fears of reprisal attacks and doubts that the British public cares enough.

Plans to launch a national appeal to raise money for up to seven million Afghan refugees are being hampered by fears of reprisal attacks and doubts that the British public cares enough.

Britain's largest aid agencies decided yesterday to launch a television appeal later this week to raise money for Afghan refugees fleeing famine and the threat of war. The appeal is expected to be launched by ITV and the BBC later this week, but the charities – including Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and at least 10 others – fear that fundraising will have to start very slowly because it will fail to win sufficient corporate and public support.

Major business donors and celebrities, who would become the public face of the appeal, have warned they fear they could be targeted by terrorist groups if the aid effort is too closely linked to a possible US military attack on Afghanistan. "There are problems with corporate sponsors about the security of their staff," said one source.

He added that ITV is nervous about "sensitivities about the public mood". Senior executives are worried that the British public may not respond to the appeal because of hostility towards militant Islamic countries.

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