Greece pledges 3 mln in humanitarian aid to Iraq

Greece is taking an active role in providing assistance to the victims of the war in Iraq, with state and local authorities, non-governmental organizations and private companies taking initiatives. The Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that it would «initially» provide 3 million euros to a number of NGOs to help with «humanitarian action in Iraq and neighboring countries.» «The NGOs’ activities mainly concern the provision of emergency medical and pharmaceutical assistance, foodstuffs and first-aid materials,» a ministry statement said yesterday. The ministry is «considering further action proposals for funding.» It has already given $1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 300,000 euros to the International Red Cross. The Education Ministry is also encouraging schoolchildren to donate to UNICEF’s humanitarian effort. Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni has launched a donation drive as well, the «Ark of Hope,» in cooperation with the UNHCR and several NGOs. Today, Alpha TV station is holding a telethon for the children of Iraq. «Greek society… has a heightened sense of solidarity with the victims of war. I want to laud every humanitarian effort for… the innocent victims of a war that could have been avoided,» said Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday.