The Bush administration outlined plans yesterday to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein and admitted that a war could produce two million refugees.
In response to criticism from aid agencies that it had paid scant attention to dealing with the effects of a war, the administration said it had been planning its humanitarian operation for five months. It said it had identified key cultural and infrastructure sites and that military planning aimed to "minimise impact on civilian populations".
Elliott Abrams, senior director for the Near East at the National Security Council, said: "We recognise that military action would have adverse humanitarian consequences ... we have been planning ... to limit any such consequences and provide relief quickly."
At the centre of America's efforts will be 60 specialists from the Disaster Assistance Response Team who would enter so-called liberated areas to "assess humanitarian needs, co-ordinate US government relief actions and offer immediate in-the-field grant-making capacity".
Andrew Natsios, of the US Agency for International Development said the organisation had stockpiled blankets, water, medicines and shelter supplies for a million people.
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