LETTER: Rush to deport desperate people

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Sir: Joanna Vallely's emotional response to the plight of west African refugees struggling to reach Europe (letter, 10 February), is understandable; but blaming Britain for propping up dictators and ruining African economies is a distortion.

In 2007 Ghana will celebrate 50 years of "freedom and justice". Independence followed for Nigeria in 1960 and Sierra Leone in 1961. All had leaders who had come to power through democratic elections organised by the departing British colonialists. Peace reigned and in Sierra Leone there was only one political prisoner at independence and he was given a bottle of whisky to celebrate. All the west African states had viable economies

Within a few years the Nigerian premier had been slaughtered by his troops and a rash of coups spread to all four former colonies. Economies nosedived as spending on the infrastructure was strangled by corruption and the jails filled with those political prisoners who hadn't fled into exile.

A misinformed sense of guilt should not be used as the basis of an immigration policy but rather we should adopt the rules which the African countries have used to good effect themselves to prevent recolonisation. All who seek to enter must have a job to go to which a local cannot fill and arrive with a return ticket provided by their prospective employer. The direct attempts to slow the wave of immigrants must indeed be matched by action on debt relief and fairer access to our markets .

JOHN TRICKS

Crediton, Devon

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