Britain makes pork-free meals for Bosnia

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN will provide 'Islamic meals' for the United States' air-drops to Muslims in eastern Bosnia following criticism that some of the Americans' ration packs contain pork, British diplomats said yesterday.

The 4,000 meals are being specially prepared by a British halal butcher, at a cost of pounds 4,500, as part of the Government's response to the US request for material assistance. Although US officials have argued that Bosnian Muslims are less strict about diet than some others, 'that might or might not be the case', a British official said. 'We just don't know - there may be 10 per cent who object, or more.' The pork-free meals would also 'send a message to the wider Islamic world community that we are taking their concerns seriously'.

A spokesman for the Overseas Development Administration, which is co- ordinating the effort, said the agency was particularly careful following mistakes in the supply of food aid to Kurdistan two years ago. 'The fact that we did some things wrong then is engraved on our minds,' he said.

The 'Islamic main meals' will consist of beef, chicken or lamb casseroles and curries. Britain will also provide 40 tons of high-nutrition biscuits and 45,000 ration packs, at a cost of pounds 240,000.

A US Air Force official said yesterday of the air-drops, initially criticised as impracticable: 'According to the best estimates we have, at least some of the food and medical supplies are getting to those who need them.' The US has dropped more than 200 tons of 'Meals Ready to Eat' since the operation began on 1 March.