LETTERS: Algeria's war is Europe's problem

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read Robert Fisk's article on Algeria ("Islamists promise Algerian elite a bloody Ramadan", 1 February) with growing apprehension. If he is right, then the civil war may continue for some time, but the Islamists will win. This will result in several hundred thousand political refugees wanting to flee Algeria, but it is unlikely that the West will be willing to accept more than a small fraction of these, with appalling consequences for those who have to remain.

What is to be done? Europe should begin to co-ordinate its asylum and immigration policies to accommodate as many refugees as possible, rather than continue pretending the problem will not arise. Second, it should start giving massive amounts of aid to countries like Egypt, and to relatively secular organisations like the PLO, to prevent similar situations from arising elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen.

As usual, Europe will do too little, too late. Thus it is quite possible that, within a decade, we may face a string of impoverished Islamic states in North Africa and the Middle East, all of them considerably more hostile towards Europe for half-heartedly backing their opponents than Iran is today.

Yours faithfully, GEORGE STADLER Ponteland, Northumberland 2 February

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