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First Batch of Aid for Iraq on the Way
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The first batch of humanitarian aid from the Chinese government for Iraqi civilians will be shipped to Jordan on Sunday, China's Ministry of Commerce announced on Friday.

The aid will include 500 tents, each four meters long, 3 meters wide and 2.5 meters high. The first batch of 100 tents will be transported by air to Jordan from Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The tents are expected to arrive in Amman on Monday. The ministry said a welfare organization in Jordan will receive the aid and be responsible for its distribution.

The remaining 400 tents will be sent to Jordan in batches in early April, the ministry said.

A ministry spokesman said China would, as the situation develops, continue to provide humanitarian aid within its capacity.

And a senior China Red Cross Society (CRCS) official said on Friday that Chinese school children are giving their pocket money and the elderly are contributing their pensions in a national desire to help the war-ravaged Iraqi people.

The CRCS was collecting donations for Iraqi war victims in line with international humanitarian principles, said Yang Huixin, deputy director of the CRCS' external liaison department.

People from all walks of life expressed their hope that Red Cross organizations would take more concrete measures to help vulnerable people in the Iraq war.

Yang said the CRCS had demonstrated clearly that humanitarianism lay in real action. Society staff had been receiving phone calls from ordinary Chinese, who wanted to give donations and work as volunteers for Iraqi war victims.

The CRCS issued a statement at the outbreak of war on March 21, saying it was deeply shocked by the war, and showed deep concern for the safety of lives and property.

The CRCS also called on all parties concerned to stop the war immediately, and peacefully solve international disputes via political means. It urged all parties to strictly abide by the Geneva Convention and other international treaties and to minimize harm and misery. The CRCS and other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IRCRCM) would offer all the help in its power.

The CRCS, which was founded in 1904 and is one of the 178 members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCRCS), should shoulder the responsibility to help victims and refugees worldwide, Yang said.

In recent years, the society has helped many countries and regions, such as Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and its Kosovo area, which suffered from war or natural disasters, with its largest donation totaling 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million).

The CRCS would observe the fundamental principles of the IRCRCM when giving humanitarian aid to Iraq, and take further action in accordance with international circumstances, Yang said.

Yang said the Red Cross Movement should assist war victims without discrimination, prevent and relieve the misery of people on both the national and international stage.

The Iraqi war evoked a severe humanitarian crisis, Yang said. The ICRC sent representatives and medical staff to Iraq, calling for a donation of US$80 million from the international community. The IFRCRCS also called for a sum of US$80 million.

In another development, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Maximovich Zlenko talked over the phone on Friday afternoon in a scheduled conversation.

The two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as the on-going war in Iraq and other issues.

(China Daily March 29, 2003)

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