British 26/11 victim spurs call for government terror aid

May 10th, 2009 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 10 (IANS) A British victim of the 26/11 terror attacks has accused his government of ignoring his plight, prompting a cross-political call for a fund that would help Britons injured or disabled in terror attacks abroad.
Will Pike, a 29-year-old Londoner who was in the Taj Mahal hotel at the time of the Mumbai attacks and now faces a lifetime in a wheelchair, told the Observer that he is having to cope with just 15,000 pounds in financial aid from a government-backed Red Cross fund.

While the British government does have compensation schemes in place, they only cover terrorist attacks on British soil - a situation that was described by Lord Daniel Brennan, a prominent barrister as “a shameful state of affairs”.

“Any decent country would be ashamed to find itself in this position,” he said, adding the annual cost of setting up a compensation fund in Britain would be no more than three million pounds.

In a letter to the British prime minister Saturday, Liberal-Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone said: “Just as we have a moral obligation to the Gurkhas, we also have a moral obligation to those who are injured by those who perpetrate terrorist attacks on our citizens - wherever in the world they become targets.”

Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Ian McCartney, said: “The situation is totally unacceptable. Terrorism is an attack not on individuals but on a state, as Mumbai made clear. A state’s duty is to its citizens.”

Pike said he and his family had been left to fend for themselves since 26/11.

“When you read about things like this in the paper, when they happen to other people, you assume there is some sort of system in place. You assume these people must be being looked after,” he told The Observer.

“But actually what we felt as the days and weeks passed… was a sense of despondency, of being let down, of just sinking through the system.”

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