85m pounds of extra aid promised by EC

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The Independent Online
THE EUROPEAN Commission agreed yesterday to give another pounds 85m of emergency aid to Yugoslavia. But officials in Brussels said they were still unsure where the money would come from, and there was confusion over how the EC's efforts would fit in with those of its member states.

Yesterday's decision, which comes on top of pounds 34m committed from EC funds in May and now being disbursed, means that the Community will have supplied more than half of all the aid given so far to the former Yugoslavia.

The Commission estimates there are more than 1.7 million refugees in the former federation. The money will buy 5,700 tons of food and medicine, enough to keep some 380,000 people in Sarajevo alive until September. The goods will be delivered to Sarajevo and perhaps also to other parts of Bosnia by road and air.

As the executive arm and civil service of the European Community, the Commission was keen to present the decision as an example of successful foreign-policy co-ordination between the 12 member states. Spokesmen said the Commission's decision was taken as a result of the communique that followed the Lisbon summit.

Commission officials also quoted approvingly a press statement put out yesterday by Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in which she paid tribute to the EC's support.

But they admitted that nobody yet knows where the promised money will come from, and the summer holidays make it hard to get extra contributions. 'We don't have money available in our emergency aid budget line,' said an EC official, 'but we're looking to take the money away from the . . . programme of aid to eastern Europe.' He said the Commission might ask for more money in September if needed.