|02KATHMANDU871||2002-05-03 12:07:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Kathmandu|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000871
1. (SBU) Summary. A joint German-WFP food aid program has
been suspended in two districts in western Nepal after
rice supplies were stolen by suspected Maoist insurgents.
A press release announcing the suspension was intended to
put the Maoists on notice that food aid would be cut off
if such incidents continued, its authors said. WFP has
adopted a "zero tolerance" approach and will not resume
deliveries until they are assured supply lines are safe
and secure. End Summary.
Poverty Program On Hold After WFP Rice Stolen
2. (U) WFP and the German development organ GTZ suspended
a poverty alleviation program in two remote districts of
Nepal after rice supplies in those areas were looted, the
two organizations revealed in a joint April 24 press
release. On April 7, unknown individuals raided a
warehouse serving the northwestern Mugu region, detained
staff there, and made off with rice and cooking oil
(Reftel). Then on April 9, bandits stole another 100
metric tons of rice from a storage facility in Jajarkot
district. Authorities have not determined the identity of
the robbers, but prime suspects include the Maoist
Message to Maoists: Cut It Out
3. (SBU) The WFP Country Director for Nepal told us that
the April 24 press release was an attempt to send the
Maoists a message through the media: WFP and its
implementing partners will suspend operations if they are
unable to deliver food aid safely and effectively to where
it is needed. Moreover, WFP does not want to appear to be
negotiating with the Maoists. By shutting down, they put
the ball in the Maoists' court, the Director added.
[Note: Press reports commented that GTZ and WFP also
sought to send a message to the government about the
seriousness of the issue. End Note.] WFP said it hoped
to inspire a more effective community response by raising
awareness of the consequences of the criminal activities.
GTZ: Cancellation a "Warning Signal"
4. (SBU) The GTZ Director told Poloff that canceling the
project in the two districts had only been done as a last
resort. He agreed with his WFP counterpart that the
intention of the press release had been to warn that the
operation was jeopardized by such activity and to try to
create public pressure on the Maoists. GTZ expressed a
reservation, however, in that the conflict could already
have reached a level that made it difficult to pressure
the miscreants effectively. GTZ remained concerned about
the deteriorating situation and the recent escalation of
"Zero Tolerance" for Interference
5. (SBU) For the past year WFP has had a "zero tolerance"
policy regarding interference in their operations, its
director related. Last summer, five percent of the food
stored by WFP in a facility in Dailekh district was
confiscated by Maoists. WFP shut down the project, and
only restarted it after they received compensation for the
lost rations. They hope to get the Maoists' attention by
shutting down in Mugu and Jajarkot, and insisting that
safe and secure supply lines be guaranteed. In the past
WFP had believed that the food was so valuable - and the
areas so difficult to work in - that it was understood
their supply lines would be respected.
6. (SBU) This incident underlines the negative effect the
Maoist insurgency has had on programs that benefit the
poorest Nepalese. Approximately half of Nepalese children
are already malnourished; without effective programs in
place, a further deterioration of that and other human
development indicators is a certainty. WFP and GTZ have
decided to play hardball with the Maoists, betting that
the Maoists would clear the way for food aid rather than
watch their people starve. By their recent actions,
however, the Maoists have shown little regard for the
lives of Nepal's people.