European Commission calls for Iraq aid

20 March 2003
As the US began attacks on Iraq, the European Commission appealed for Eur 100 million ($106.2 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to alleviate the effects of war on the Iraqi people. Aid chief Poul Nielson said that the EC had set aside Eur 21 million ($22.3 million) from its existing aid budget, but called on the European Parliament and EU states to authorise an urgent release of additional funds. Nielson emphasised the importance of swift access to victims of the conflict for aid agencies.

The European Parliament went into an emergency debate after the first strikes were launched. Greece, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, warned of the damage the Iraq issue had inflicted on transatlantic relations. 'We have been and are still going through a significant crisis [in relations],' said Foreign Minister George Papandreou. 'Nobody can doubt that.'

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