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Jordan Becomes Iraq Aid Supply Route

April 17, 2003

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ A plane loaded with medicine, blankets and other humanitarian supplies arrived Thursday in Jordan, as aid agencies and governments turn the desert kingdom into a major supply route for aid to Iraq.

The 31.5-ton shipment from the French government and aid groups also contained water purification kits, nutritional supplements and medical supplies _ part of the $10.7 million France has pledged in aid for Iraq, said Aline Lenormand, press counselor at the French Embassy in Amman.

The aid will be delivered to Iraq by French aid agencies over the next few days, Lenormand said.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian government dispatched 11 trucks of medical supplies and 50 trucks with 1,414 tons of flour donated by the World Food Program.

The Rome-based U.N. agency said it has made arrangements with authorities in the Red Sea port of Aqaba to allow the unloading of three ships simultaneously, giving the corridor a capacity of up to 300,000 tons. A contract has been drawn up with a local transporter.

``Jordan can play a pivotal role as a humanitarian corridor to bring large food shipments into Iraq,″ said Khaled Adly, the agency’s regional director.

The World Food Program will need to ship an estimated 480,000 tons of food each month into Iraq. In one of the largest logistics operations in its 40-year history, the agency will use 9,300 trucks, operating out of five neighboring countries _ Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

The U.N agency is seeking $1.3 billion to fund the operation, but to date has received only $310 million.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services and its partner Caritas Iraq announced plans to send a four-vehicle convoy with 45 tons of food and medicine, worth an estimated $500,000, from Amman to Baghdad ``when security and access permit,″ the groups said in a statement.

The convoy is sponsored by Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of charitable organizations of the Catholic Church.

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