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Web posted at: 3/29/2003 2:31:34 Source ::: REUTERS http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsect ion=Iraq+Crisis&month=March2003&file=World_News2003032923134.xml LONDON: Relief agencies accused British and US forces yesterday of being more concerned with food aid as a propaganda tool than feeding hungry Iraqis. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Save the Children said chaotic scenes shown on televisions on Wednesday, in which Iraqis scrambled for food thrown from a truck at Safwan near the border with Kuwait, was an example of how the provision of aid has become just another tactic in the U.S.-led war against Iraq. "What they are doing is not humanitarian aid but a 'hearts and mind' operation and that is quite different," Save the Children's Director of Emergencies Lewis Sida said. He said humanitarian missions would seek to avoid such high profile incidents, saying it illustrated that the military did not have the competence to do aid work and said such operations did not serve the best interests of the people most in need. Wednesday's pictures of young men fighting it out with each other to grab meagre supplies off the backs of trucks also raised concerns at Care International UK over the plight of those not strong enough to do battle for food. "Inevitably the people who need that assistance most are least able to physically collect it," Care's emergencies advisor Adrian Denyer said. "The most vulnerable and the weakest, the women and children, are a long way from that truck and it will be the young men who grab the aid and will most likely sell it rather than distribute it." Another concern is the amount of food aid that can get through to a country where 60 percent of the population had been relying on an oil-for-food programme, which was suspended when the US-led war against Iraq began. The first ship to bring humanitarian aid since the start of the US-led invasion was British ship Sir Galahad, which docked at the port of Umm Qasr yesterday. But its cargo is a drop in the sea of aid which the oil-for-food programme had provided. "To put it in context, we have been waiting for the Sir Galahad for days with its 200 tons of food. Under the oil for food programme 16,000 tonnes a day were supplied, so you are looking at 80 Sir Galahads a day just to restore the normal supply," Christian Aid spokesman John Davison said. He said aid agencies and the military have had many discussions over several years about how best to distribute aid. The agencies said their experience has taught them that the distribution of food and supplies must be held at secure warehouses if those most in need can hope to be fed. Almost all aid agencies have said southern Iraq is still too dangerous for civilian relief teams, but they are demanding the UN take control of humanitarian work when the fighting ends. They say they refuse to work alongside the military because being seen alongside troops would put their own workers in danger and erode the confidence of the Iraqi people in them. On Wednesday, another convoy of Kuwait Red Crescent trucks heading for Safwan was surrounded by Iraqis fighting for the food packages inside. The troops accompanying the convoy ordered the aid released for safety reasons. "The fact that it was chaotic and badly planned and off the back of a truck illustrates that they (military) do not have the competence to do that," Sida said. A British defence source said that the military should not accept blame for Wednesday's chaos. Copyright The Peninsula _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk