German aid supplies for Katrina refugees blocked

12th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

12 September 2005, HAMBURG - Emergency rations from Germany for victims of Hurricane Katrina were banned from the United States during the week, a government spokesman said Saturday in Berlin, and a magazine said the reason was fear they might be contaminated with mad-cow disease.

12 September 2005

HAMBURG - Emergency rations from Germany for victims of Hurricane Katrina were banned from the United States during the week, a government spokesman said Saturday in Berlin, and a magazine said the reason was fear they might be contaminated with mad-cow disease.

The spokesman said three planeloads of the rations, which each contain enough instant food for one person for a day, reached the United States, but U.S. officials blocked a fourth, 15-ton load on Thursday. He did not say why. The ban was later lifted.

According to the weekly Der Spiegel, the U.S. Department of Agriculture intervened, contending a quarantine against BSE was being broken. Some of the rations contain sausage or diced beef. Imports of army rations from Britain and Russia were also blocked.

In a story in its issue to hit the streets on Monday, Der Spiegel said the plane never took off, and the packs had to unloaded again Friday at a base near Cologne, Germany. Spiegel said the U.S. embassy in Berlin announced Friday evening that the aid could proceed.

The armed forces ration packs weigh 2 kilograms apiece and contain enough food for a day, including such instant meals as potatoes and goulash or pasta and tomato sauce, along with sausage, jam and a powder to make cordial.

They are used by soldiers of all nations during NATO exercises and have been certified by NATO as safe and free of BSE, Der Spiegel said. The government spokesman said that was correct, but did not know if there would be an attempt send the failed consignment again.

A survey of Germans conducted for Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa meanwhile indicated more than half were not planning to donate to appeals for victims of the hurricane, apparently because of perceptions that Americans were rich or the relief would be wasted.

Some 39 per cent told Polis interviewers they would donate, but 54 per cent said they would not. Some 76 per cent said they had donated in the past to relief funds for victims of disaster and war.

The German Red Cross confirmed that donations it had received up to Friday of 790,000 euros (980,000 dollars) fell far short of what Germans donated at the end of last year to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Spokesman Fredrik Barkenhammar said donations had hit EUR 10 million in a similar space of time after the December 26, 2004 tsunami. Germans appeared to be excusing themselves by saying, "The United States is not a developing country", he said.

"But the suffering of a mother in New Orleans who has lost her children is just as great as that of a mother in Banda Aceh," he responded.

Germany's government has funded a pumping operation by engineers from the THW civil-defence corps.

The 90 THW volunteers and four ambulance crew with them have arrived in the area and have been accommodated in a U.S. Navy troop transport offshore. They were expected to win clearance to start work pumping away floodwater on Sunday in New Orleans, officials said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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