IoS letters, emails & online postings (21 November 2010)

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The cholera epidemic overwhelming aid agencies in Haiti highlights a historical and ongoing failure ("Where is the UN? Where is the help?", 14 November). The response of the media and the international community to the earthquake has followed a tragically familiar pattern: shock, an outpouring of compassion, promises by governments and then forgetfulness.

In March, $5.3bn (£3.3bn) for reconstruction was pledged by donor governments. Eight months later, there are still more than a million people pressed into hundreds of precarious camps around Port-au-Prince. Only a few thousand transitional homes have been built, and no significant reconstruction programme is under way.

When these pledged funds are finally released, they need to be invested in a long-term strategy for reconstruction and economic recovery led by the Haitian government. Above all, the participation of Haitian civil society is needed to prevent a return to the violence and political chaos that have characterised this traumatised nation for so long.

Dr Chris MacLullich

Edinburgh

Few diseases magnify poverty as cholera does. It is a horrific disease that robs the body of fluid and quickly kills. But as your article indicates, prevention should be simple, with clean water, hand-washing and adequate sanitation. We have known this for more than 150 years, ever since John Snow disabled the Broad Street pump in London, cutting off a contaminated water supply. Cholera infects up to five million people each year, killing around 120,000. Lack of safe water and sanitation means more children in Africa die from diarrhoeal diseases than anything else. This alone should justify the Government's commitment to allocating 0.7 per cent gross national income to international aid by 2013. To make this aid more effective, water and sanitation need to be a higher priority if we are to confine diseases like cholera to history.

Henry Northover

Head of Policy, WaterAid

London SE11

It was a pleasure to read Peter Popham's special report ("The return of Burma's accidental heroine", 14 November), but I question his characterisation of Aung San Suu Kyi's father, Major-General Aung San, as having "wrestled his country from the hands of both the Japanese and the British". The good general was undoubtedly a man of principle and courage, but throwing in his lot with the Japanese in 1940 was not the wisest of choices.

After returning to Burma as a colonel at the head of the Japanese-stooge Burma National Army he realised his error and took his life in his hands by contacting the British. However, it was the British 14th Army and its American and Chinese allies who actually "wrestled" Burma from the Japanese.

Aung San Suu Kyi has other, tremendous challenges today, but she would not have them if it were not for 14th Army. I wish her, and the people she so clearly loves, luck in their tomorrow.

Rohan Maxwell

Sarajevo

I have played every Call of Duty since the beginning, and each game has its merits ("Play is about life. Video games prefer death", 14 November). But it has shifted from a sombre series portraying the sacrifice of the Second World War in a semi-reverent fashion to a series that seems to have little purpose but the glorification of blood, brutality, over-the-top explosions and "killstreaks". It's past time for the themes, stories and morality which underlie games to grow up the same way the average gamer has. Games have so much potential to make the world a better, more creative and even a more humane place.

Joseph 2000

posted online

The new rules on restraint are needed ("Teachers fear restraint power will bring chaos", 14 November). There is no national registry on injuries to staff and students in this country, and few reporting requirements. I was partially blinded by a student throwing an iceball, yet the school continued to allow this activity and I saw many eye injuries to students, all unreported. Bullying in Portugal now brings a custodial sentence for young offenders, and the problem in Portugal is light compared with here. If we want a civilised society we must start by imposing strict school discipline. High-quality education also requires a calm learning environment. More intense home discipline will facilitate this process much more rapidly than 30-minute detentions.

Clive Beere

Manchester

Sara Maitland considers our noisy society and asks what musicians think ("Silence", 14 November). As someone who composes music, I assure you that I hate the ubiquity of music, although I love music with a great passion. I also like chocolate, but there are moments in my life when I don't want to be eating it.

dogsolitude_v2

posted online

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2010/November/21

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