UN and Iraq sign aid accord

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The Independent Online
New York (AP) - Iraq and the United Nations signed a humanitarian accord yesterday, opening the way for a massive relief programme for a country suffering under UN economic sanctions and facing the onset of winter. It allows up to 300 UN guards to be sent to help relief efforts in the Kurdish-controlled north and an unspecified number of relief workers throughout the country.

The dollars 200m ( pounds 123m) accord on food, medicine and other emergency assistance - about half the aid is to be sent to the north - should ease tensions between the UN and Iraq. Iraq had previously resisted the programme, saying its sovereignty was being violated by the presence of UN guards. Guards will not be permitted in the south, but the United Nations will be able to open offices as needed in southern Iraq, where the government crushed a Shia rebellion after the Gulf war.