Letter: Cook's poor judgement

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is another aspect of British policy towards Sierra Leone that has all but been overlooked. From mid-1997 until the restoration of President Kabbah earlier this year, the UK government slashed aid to Sierra Leone. This appears to have been a deliberate component of the political strategy to dislodge the military junta.

Clearly, humanitarian aid cannot be divorced from the political context in which it is delivered. But here, the Government's aim to see the Kabbah regime reinstated rode roughshod over humanitarian concerns. Aid workers in the region were clear that well-targeted assistance could have minimised civilian suffering without compromising the international community's political objectives.

The restriction of humanitarian aid to achieve political aims is inexcusable and must not become a precedent for future responses to complex emergencies.

MARGIE BUCHANAN-SMITH

Head of Policy, ActionAid

London N19

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