IRAQ REPORT: EU gives 21 million euros for agency relief work in Iraq

The European Union has set aside 21 million euros (£14m) to help with relief work in Iraq, mainly through programmes organised by the United Nations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the main aid NGOs.

The move comes despite intense political disagreements between member states, notably Britain and France, about the decision to go to war against Iraq.

Poul Nielson, European commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, said 15 million euros (£10m) were already allocated for Iraq in the 2003 budget, along with six million euros (£4m) from emergency procedures.

Half of the money would go to relief work inside Iraq, said Nielson, while the other half would go to programmes for the refugees in neighbouring countries.

"Flexibility will be needed and this has been built into our planning," he said."I am ready to make a request for extra resources from the general emergency reserve of the Community budget."

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