Warning on 'immense' Kurdish aid emergency

ANKARA (Reuter) - Iraqi Kurds will need twice the aid envisaged by the United Nations to save them from freezing or starving to death this winter, Western experts said yesterday. 'Northern Iraq is facing a humanitarian emergency of immense proportions,' said a statement by a technical team of United States and European donors which has just visited Iraqi Kurdistan. 'High unemployment, inflation and critical shortages of basic commodities are impoverishing the population and putting large segments . . . at risk of life-threatening hunger and cold this winter.'

'We feel the whole population is at risk,' said a team member, Richard Lewartowski, who is an official of the European Community's Humanitarian Office. He said the UN had underestimated the emergency fuel and food needs of 3 million people in northern Iraq. 'Our figure will be higher. We fear it will be more than double the UN figure,' he said.

The United Nations has prepared a winter plan that would cost up to dollars 90m ( pounds 55m) to feed 750,000 people and provide them with fuel for heating and cooking through the winter.