Humanity please

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As a former child refugee (from the Red Army from Latvia) I feel that Stan Hogarth (Letters, 3 September) seems to accuse the myriad refugees of cowardice in not displaying “an old-fashioned patriotic attitude” in staying to defend their country.

I assume he was not present at the recent Edinburgh International Book Festival talk by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, in which she was so eloquent on the overwhelming circumstances which drive people to abandon their countries.

Eritreans are fleeing a regime which conscripts children into their North Korean-style army. Syrians are fleeing a vicious civil war which has given rise to the barbarities of IS.

I also assume he has not had any contact with recent refugees, whose whole lives have been broken by their traumatic experiences. Otherwise he would not have been able to write a letter so lacking in human empathy.

In the late 1940s our status as displaced persons was frequently misunderstood, but only once was I called a “dirty pig”, and only once was I accused of speaking Latin at home.

On the whole, people were more welcoming. Both my parents were affected by their experiences to the end of their days, but were always grateful to this country for having given them refuge.

Marina Donald

Tantallon Place