Head leads mission to rescue Bosnians

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The Independent Online
AN ENGLISH headmaster is poised today to test Home Office pledges to relax its treatment towards refugees bound for Britain from the former Yugoslavia, writes Carl Fellstrom.

Following the 28-hour journey across Europe in a donated coach, Gerald Smith, 52, from Northampton, is to bring up to 40 Bosnian refugees back to England.

The 'mercy mission', which began on Thursday and reached the Slovenian border with Austria last night, aims to persuade the British government to fall into line with other European Community countries in accepting a bigger quota of refugees from the war- torn country.

'This is a test case, especially in the light of the recent deportations,' Mr Smith said as he prepared last night for the safe passage of the refugees from the border town of Kranjska-Gora. 'We should not leave everything up to the governments of the world. The public must play their part too.'

The refugees are expected to arrive in Dover tonight. From there they will be transported to St Peter's School in Northampton, where Mr Smith is headmaster, and they will then be found homes in the area.

Mr Smith, who admitted his idea was 'somewhat mad', believes that the refugees will be allowed to stay in England.

'These people have lost everything. They have no homes to go back to for years - we must set some sort of example,' he said.

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