Aid rots away in storeroom

Prefectural officials have uncovered 337 tons of frozen chicken meat rotting away in a storeroom in Piraeus, southern Athens, that had been purchased earlier this year as part of national aid for Iraqi war victims. According to data seen by Kathimerini, the chickens had been purchased by charity group Solidarity in January on behalf of the Foreign Ministry and were expected to be sent to Iraq by the end of March. The government had commissioned the charity, a non-government organization which belongs to the Church of Greece, to send a total of 2,650 tons of chicken meat for a total fee of 7 million euros. It appears, however, that Solidarity has collected the money but purchased only 371 tons of chicken – which has yet to be sent abroad. Staff at Solidarity have admitted dipping into the Iraqi aid consignment and using 34 tons of the chicken meat for the purposes of their own charity events. Instructions to buy the meat had been intended to help demand in the poultry sector which experienced serious problems early last year due to the bird flu disease, according to a source. Due to European Union competition rules, governments are not allowed to directly hand out aid to the farmers so the Finance Ministry provided state assistance to the sector by providing orders and then passing on the meat to Iraq. About 5.3 million euros went to Solidarity for the Iraqi program while the remainder was intended to be kept by the the charity for transport and storage expenses. An inspection of the storage area by Piraeus prefecture officials uncovered the forgotten meat last week.

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