10/06/2005

British aid is held up 5 days in US fiasco

British aid is held up in US fiasco
By Ben Hoyle
MoD left furious as ban on EU meat keeps ration packs sitting on runways after urgent delivery by the RAF
THE United States held up British emergency rations worth £4 million for five days because of fears about the safety of European meat.

As the refugee crisis that followed the floods in Louisiana grew during the week, more than 400,000 military ration packs sat at two airfields in America.

Washington had requested them last weekend, but the meals fell foul of a United States Department of Agriculture ban on the import of certain products from the European Union.

But last night, five days after the first batches of aid arrived from Britain and after negotiations with the British Government, the agency waived the ban, paving the way for the food to be distributed to those who need it.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: “The United States Department of Agriculture has cleared ration packs for onward distribution. Meals from all EU member states have been cleared.”

However, British defence staff are furious that the delay prevented the rations from reaching the refugees for whom they were intended until this weekend.

One member of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Logistics Organisation, which helped to organise the airlift, said: “Can you imagine how this is going down at our end? People were working their butts off on Sunday and Monday to make this happen. This aid wasn’t volunteered. The US asked for it.

“We moved heaven and earth to get this stuff out there. You don’t send half a million ration packs if you don’t think they’re going to be used.”

Hurricanes Katrina Rita The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online

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