Letter: Silent guns do not necessarily equal peace

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tony Barber writes (31 March) heralding the 'dawn of peace' in former Yugoslavia. It is indeed true that contours of peace appear to be replacing contours of conflict, but we need to approach this expectation with tremendous caution. Deal-making, compromise and papering over political cracks are a pretty wretched base upon which to build real hope and trust.

As executive director of Feed The Children, I can report only frail evidence for optimism among the civilian population. At this juncture we are attempting to double our aid deliveries to people who still huddle in hostels, who cannot get back to their homes, who still suffer from terrorism and the brutal attacks on individuals that have so characterised this war.

As well as seeds, food, vaccinations, medicines, the people need more soldiers to guard them and protect the aid supplies, yet America states that it cannot afford to send them. The situation in Krajina is still unresolved. The Serbian threat to Albanians in Kosovo also remains. And yet we are talking of 'dawns of peace'.

Silent guns do not feed children, reunite families, build bridges. Each ceasefire must be replaced by something practical, material, real. During the past two years our concern has at times proved to be mere tokenism, whereas now we have a wonderful opportunity to prove to the people that care can be real.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID H. W. GRUBB

Executive Director

Feed The Children

Reading

31 March

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