EU grants further EUR 37 million to aid Iraq

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Posted by Sadie from ? ( on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 at 10:20AM :

EU grants a further EUR 37 million in humanitarian aid
Report, ECHO

3 July 2003

Brussels - The European Commission has approved a new humanitarian aid package worth 37 million to help victims of the ongoing crisis in Iraq. The focus of the aid is on supporting health, nutrition, water, sanitation and food programmes. The funds are channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) under the direct responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson, and the programmes will be implemented by experienced United Nations and NGO partners.

Commenting on the decision, Poul Nielson said "This represents another important stage in the Commission's rolling programme of humanitarian support to victims of the crisis in Iraq. It is the fifth humanitarian aid decision we have taken since March 21 and underlines our ongoing commitment to deliver the assistance that is so urgently needed."

The three-week long war which began on March 20 resulted in substantial damage to infrastructure. This was followed by widespread looting of vital supplies and equipment. Insecurity continues to be the main problem threatening the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Key health and water/sanitation facilities are still not functioning at the level required to meet the population's needs. Preliminary surveys indicate an increase in malnutrition, a growth in the incidence of communicable diseases and a higher risk of serious epidemics.

The new funding decision complements the resumed "Oil for Food" programme, concentrating mainly on health and water/sanitation measures. There is also a important component for the supply of selected emergency food items. The aim here is to improve nutrition among vulnerable people by providing them with a more balanced diet.

Projects to be funded include:

Health and nutrition: Rehabilitation of health and social infrastructures, training in disease surveillance, distribution of essential medicines, materials and equipment, provision of fresh food for hospital patients.

Water and sanitation: Rehabilitation of water, sanitation and sewage infrastructures, monitoring of water quality, distribution of chlorinated drinking water, and support for rubbish collection.

Food: Support aimed at filling gaps in the national feeding programme.The decision also provides funding for co-ordination, logistics and technical assistance including resources to maintain the ECHO support office that was opened in Iraq shortly after the war ended.

ECHO has a long-standing humanitarian commitment to the people of Iraq. With this latest announcement, the European Commission has now committed almost 70% of the 100 million announced in the early stages of the war. Since 1998, ECHO has pledged more than 150 million in humanitarian assistance to the victims of the crisis in Iraq.

-- Sadie
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