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U.S. Criticizes E.U. Food Donations To Afghanistan - 2002-08-30


A top U-S State Department official has criticized the European Union for not doing what he called its "fair share" in contributing food aid to Afghanistan.

Assistant Secretary of State Gene Dewey told a news conference (Thursday) that the European Union's bureaucracy is "hopeless." He said it has been nearly impossible to get E-U foreign aid officials to respond to donation needs in a timely manner.

He accused the European Union of not being generous enough with its contributions and not being multi-lateral enough in supporting the U-N World Food Program. He said U-S food aid channeled to Afghanistan through the World Food Program has been 13-times higher than the E-U contributions.

Mr. Dewey said the shortage of donations will make it difficult to sustain the large number of refugees returning to Afghanistan this winter. He said some refugees may be forced to return to Pakistan where they know they will receive assistance.

But, Assistant Secretary Dewey said he believes E-U officials will eventually fulfill their commitment to Afghanistan. He urged all donor countries, especially those in Europe, to meet their pledges of food donations.

There has been no official response from the European Union, but Associated Press quotes an E-U official who rejected Mr. Dewey's allegations.

The U-N Refugee Agency says that more than one-point-six million Afghan refugees have returned home since a voluntary repatriation program began in March.

Relief workers say they fear that current food aid donations in Afghanistan will run out by November.

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