To the Editors:

Caroline Moorehead’s poignant description of African refugees [“Lost in Cairo,” NYR, June 13] presents a serious problem that requires for an answer more than a newly sensitized UNHCR. Our refugee system is far too narrow and reactive to address this chronic feature of the human experience. It is like a hospital emergency room that does little or nothing about preventing or mitigating the injuries that precipitate exile, and that provides very little after-care to help returning refugees re-establish themselves. Often, the displaced are simply warehoused in exile. In order to do more than merely administer misery, we must find a way to fashion proactive and comprehensive humanitarian policy.

Arthur C. Helton
Director, Peace and Conflict Studies
Senior Fellow for Refugee Studies and Preventive Action
Council on Foreign Relations
New York City

This Issue

September 26, 2002