Letter: Shame of not providing refuge

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The Independent Online
Sir: The European 'community' was slow to react to the plight of Kurdish refugees that arose during the aftermath of the Gulf crisis. The consequent shame jolted respective governments into action. The same delay is evident in response to the Bosnian refugee crisis, with governments closing ranks once again in a unified ignoring of the appeals for help. The plain truth is that more than two million fellow Europeans have been forced to leave their homes as 'restructuring' of what was Yugoslavia takes place.

My own attempt to extend a hand to these people, through the Yugoslavian desk at the Foreign Office and the UN High Commission for Refugees, by offering space in my home, was met by the official immigration brick wall. It would seem that no official organisation recognises the need to help these people.

In the full knowledge of the conditions Bosnians are forced to live under, it is almost equally unjust of our government to prevent the people of Britain from providing help and compassion in this way, especially when it is so openly complacent itself. Do we have to wait until the 'shame factor' comes into play once again? How much unnecessary suffering will have occurred by that stage?

Now that the UK government has made it clear that it will not be offering refuge to these unfortunate people, do any unofficial channels remain open?

Yours faithfully,

TIM FRANCE

London, SW15

29 July

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