Spanish Military Fail to Distribute Humanitarian Aid between Iraqis

The first attempt by the Spanish military to distribute humanitarian aid among Iraqis in Umm Qasr has ended in failure.

Spanish servicemen, as soon as they arrived in Iraq, began handing out water and food to the population of the city of Umm Qasr, but shortly had to beat a hasty retreat to base. Hundreds of Iraqis had so aggressively stormed the truck from which relief was distributed that the Spanish decided to pull back for fear of most serious consequences.

Admiral Juan Antonio Moreno Susanna, commander of a 899-strong contingent of Spanish servicemen, who sailed into Iraq aboard the assault landing ship Galicia and the frigate Queen Sofia accompanied by the tanker Marques de Encenada, said following the incident that humanitarian aid "will from now on be distributed through local authorities".

But such authorities and appropriate structures do not yet exist in Umm Qasr and the British troops that occupied the city are still trying to set them up. As practice suggests, the military cannot cope with such kind of activities.

Admiral Susanna also said that "now that the war in Iraq is over the most difficult thing begins - reconstruction of Iraq, to which Spanish armed forces want to contribute".

Spanish authorities stress in every way that the warships with a military contingent - including 150 Marines - dispatched to Iraq are meant to solve purely humanitarian problems, as the Galicia has a 26-bed field hospital and the Spanish have brought with them 20 tons of water and food for Muslims.

On this basis Defence Minister Federico Trillo on Wednesday told parliament that Spain does not take part in the war in Iraq.

As transpired, all expenses for sending the three ships and 899 servicemen to Iraq were under the heading of humanitarian aid, whose sum - 50 million euros - amazed many with its generosity.

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