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EU pledges 21m euros in aid to Iraq
Close cooperation with European NGOs and UN groups

Brussels (pte021/21.03.2003/11:34) - The EU Commission has reacted to news of first military action in Iraq. EU commissioner Poul Nielson, who is responsible for development and humanitarian aid, has announced the EU would provide an initial 21m euros in funding for humanitarian aid in Iraq.

"It is of course still unclear just how much and what kind of humanitarian aid will be needed in the coming days and weeks," Nielson explained.

For now, the EU has pledged 15m euros, which had already been earmarked for Iraq in the ECHO budget, to which 6m euros have been added on short notice. Some of the aid will go toward emergency relief, other funds will be used to deal with possible large numbers of refugees leaving Iraq.

The EU Commission has said it is working closely together with UN aid organizations, the Red Cross and several experienced European NGOs.

"The role and mandate of the international organizations must be respected during this crisis, so they can fully carry out their task. We intend to support this concept with the proper funding," said Nielson. The organization ECHO has been active in Iraq for over a decade, responding to the critical humanitarian situation even before the last conflict in the Gulf. Since 1992 the EU has spent about 157m euros on aid and emergency relief programmes, complementing the UN programme "Oil for Food" . (newsfox-special Iraq)

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Contact: Newsfox Desk
Phone: + 43 - 1 - 811 40 - 319