Letter: Angelic praise for the UN team

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The Independent Online
Sir: We have just returned from Bosnia, where we took part in the humanitarian relief project 'Operation Angel' (in which Sally Becker played a figurehead role). We have been astonished at some of the negative publicity that Operation Angel has attracted - particularly the claims that projects such as this hamper the work of the UN.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the British forces working with the United Nations Protection Force (Unprofor) stated that the scale of the success - especially the transfer of 46 people in one single operation from Mostar on Sunday 19 December - simply could not have been achieved without our ambulances and medical personnel. The major aim of Operation Angel was to evacuate people from the war zones within Bosnia and to take in medical aid and other relief goods; in this it achieved its goals. One other aim was to keep in the public eye the plight of ordinary people caught in the war.

However, the volunteers of the Operation Angel convoy feel that there is another group that deserves more attention. The women and men of UNHCR and Unprofor, working to ease the suffering of the Bosnian people, deserve our profound gratitude and admiration. Hostile and misinformed statements may lead people to underestimate their unceasing efforts in immensely difficult circumstances.

Although Sally Becker initiated the project, the successful evacuation of 98 people could not have been achieved without the planning, support and advice of UNHCR and Unprofor. The dedication and commitment of the women and men working with UNHCR and Unprofor is magnificent. They showed tolerance, courtesy and respect to our group of volunteers, and together we achieved a most effective working relationship.

Yours sincerely,





23 December

The writers were administrators for Operation Angel.