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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014
EU boosts aid to Iraq, but says access is key
AFP
Brussels, August 12, 2014
First Published: 18:32 IST(12/8/2014)
Last Updated: 18:36 IST(12/8/2014)

The European Commission boosted aid to war-torn Iraq by five million euros on Tuesday but warned that finding access to desperate civilians, not funding, was the most urgent problem.

"In the case of Iraq, it is less a problem of money than a problem of access," said EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristlina Georgieva as she announced the increase in EU aid to Iraq, which brings the total from Brussels to 17 million euros ($22.8 million) for the year.

"This is to help hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including minority groups displaced on the mountains of Sinjar," Georgieva said in reference to the desperate civilians who had been besieged by jihadists on a mountain in northern Iraq.

Georgieva said the Iraq crisis was the most urgent problem hitting the planet, despite a multitude of emergencies unfurling at a "magnitude not known since the great wars in Europe".

The commissioner, who is on the short-list to replace EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton later this year, announced the boost in assistance as envoys from EU member states were meeting to better coordinate action on Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza.

Italy and France have called for bolder EU action on Iraq, with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius making a forceful call that colleagues cut short vacations to decide measures, including military ones, to aid Kurdish Iraqis fighting off the Islamic State onslaught.

"I fully understand that humanitarian aid can only go that far," Georgieva said when asked if more bolder moves were needed in Iraq.

"It's like a plaster on a wound," she said, adding it was dangerous for humanitarians to meddle outside their mandate and risk putting political neutrality under threat.

Georgievea also said the decision by Russia to send an humanitarian convoy to eastern Ukraine was strictly a "Russian decision", adding that any assistance must meet strict international standards of neutrality.


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