As conditions for Iraqis deteriorate in battle-torn cities like Basra, which is the scene of heavy fighting, Germany said it would double its humanitarian aid to Iraq from €40 million to €80 million.
A Kurdish family flees to a refugee camp in Iraq.
Announcing the increase in an interview with the public broadcaster ARD on Saturday, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said that as the current head of the Iraq Sanctions Committee of the United Nations, Germany could not act as though it was "untouched" by the war.
Schröder said Iraq would need to use some of its own oil resources to aid in the reconstruction effort after the war. But he cautioned that such resources need to be used for the good of the Iraqi people and "no one else." Schröder also reiterated his position that reconstruction efforts should be undertaken under international control, and that the United Nations must play a central role.
In his morning interview with ARD, Schröder said the most-important lesson learned from the Gulf War is that Europe must increase its economic, military, and political weight. To strengthen the voices of international organizations and to help them become more capable of acting, Europe needs to consolidate its power. However, he warned, Europe should not try to position itself as a counterweight to the United States. Schröder is expected to give a major address to the German parliament about the war and the rift it has created across the continent on Thursday.
Reconstruction aid pledged
German Defense Minister Peter Struck of the Social Democrats also confirmed that Germany would provide financial aid for the planned reconstruction effort. "This is not a mission that we can simply evade," Struck told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "Small countries, especially, would have a hard time understanding why a country with the economic might of Germany could refuse to take part."
However, Struck would not comment on reports that the government is considering sending German troops to participate in a United Nations-led peacekeeping effort in a postwar Iraq. Preparing German troops for a possible peacekeeping mission isn't currently part of the discussion, he said. "Right now it's time to deal with humanitarian aid and getting clean water and food to the people. Besides, German soldiers have not been asked to assist with rebuilding."
Compiled with material from wire services.