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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 October, 2003, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Bali victims' families criticise government
The Bali bomb killed mainly western tourists
The families of the British victims of the Bali bombing say they have not received sufficient support from the UK Government.

The UK Bali Bombing Victims Group say the authorities have failed to appreciate what the bereaved went through.

They want to launch an appeal to help the families of the 26 Britons who were among the 202 people that died as a result of the 12 October attack.

The group's members say they feel like "poor relations" next to the families of those Britons who died in the 11 September attack in the USA a year earlier.

None is entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, because their relatives were murdered outside Europe.

Pastoral role

Spokeswoman for the group Susanna Miller, who lost her brother Dan in the attack, said many people had been forced to give up or suspend their jobs, or go part-time because they were finding it so hard to cope.

"A lot of the families are experiencing great financial distress," she said.

There was an enormous amount of confusion and disorganisation within the Foreign Office and on the ground
Susanna Miller, Bali Bombing Victims Group

In all citizens from 21 countries died when the explosions ripped through the nightclub area of Kuta on Bali.

The victims group was formed in March and speaks for the vast majority of the relatives of the Britons killed.

It has also criticised the Foreign Office for not taking its pastoral role seriously enough.

Relatives said they were disappointed that despite repeated requests for a meeting with officials it has yet to materialise.

Ms Miller told BBC News 24 there were lessons to be learned for the people involved in "the next set of tragedies" which they felt was "inevitable".

"One of the key things that we found most distressing was the confusion, there was an enormous amount of confusion and disorganisation within the Foreign Office and on the ground.

Counselling

"It took a very long time for people to be identified, it took a very long time for really proper links to be set up with Bali."

She said the emergency number given out to families was for a "back room in a restaurant in Kuta", the town where the bomb attack happened.

"That was the number that thousands and thousands of very terrified relatives were trying to phone to find out details, and it was very difficult."

She said if it had not have been for the expat and tourist community rallying round to help trace the dead, the victims' families would have had a much worse time.

The Victim Support Group intends to organise an appeal for funds, to ensure long term care and counselling is put in place.

Very little financial assistance has been received so far, other than a 2,000 donation from the British Red Cross to assist families who wanted to travel to Bali for the anniversary of the attack.

The families had to organise and fund their own commemoration service to mark next Sunday's first anniversary.

Another relative, Jenny Record, said many families felt the bombings had not been treated like a "British tragedy".

"It was seen as an Australian tragedy, whereas in actual fact we lost 26 British. It was very much swept under the carpet by the next big news story."

The Foreign Office denied the allegation that it had treated Bali bomb families differently from the 11 September families.

It said it has not launched an appeal because it was not its role.

But the ministry did accept the families' criticisms about the way they responded at the time and say they have already made some changes.


SEE ALSO:
'Martyrdom' fear over Bali bomb verdict
10 Sep 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Brother's 'terror threat' fears
07 Aug 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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