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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ROME5625
2003-12-16 15:09:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

END OF YEAR NORTH KOREA HUMANITARIAN WRAP-UP

Tags:   EAID  PREL  PREF  EAGR  ECON  KN  KS  UN 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS  ROME 005625 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

FROM U.S. MISSION IN ROME

STATE FOR D/S RARMITAGE, U/S MGROSSMAN, IO A/S KHOLMES, EAP
A/S JKELLY, A/S PRM ADEWEY, EAP/CM, AND IO/EDA RBEHREND
USDA/FAS FOR U/S JPENN AND MCHAMBLISS
USAID FOR ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS, JBRAUSE, AA/DCHA RWINTER,
AND DCHA/FFP LLANDIS
NSC FOR JDWORKEN, MGREEN


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PREF EAGR ECON KN KS UN
SUBJECT: END OF YEAR NORTH KOREA HUMANITARIAN WRAP-UP

REF: (A) ROME 5222
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. NOT
SUITABLE FOR INTERNET POSTING.

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (SBU) Recent press reports, WFP requests, inquiries from
other donors and Assistant Secretary Boucher's comments have
focused attention on the continuing humanitarian crisis in
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). WFP has
renewed its request for a favorable decision on the
remaining 60,000 tons of Secretary Powell's February
tentative 2003 offer of 100,000 tons of food aid. Other
donors have inquired about the U.S. stance and are awaiting
our decision before taking (more) action of their own.
Finally, accusations of the U.S. using food as a weapon in
the larger political context are gaining more traction. It
is not in our interest to be perceived in this context.
Releasing the remaining 60,000 tons will address that
misperception. End Summary.



--------------------------


DPRK: Facing another "winter famine?"


--------------------------





2. (SBU) WFP is claiming that up to 3.8 million North
Korean beneficiaries - 17 percent of the country's
population - could be dropped from receiving food aid by the
end of the winter. In its latest statement of the need in
the DPRK, WFP announced that 2.2 million have already had to
be cut from receiving assistance, of the 6.4 million
targeted among vulnerable groups for 2003. According to
WFP, this means, "young children, pregnant and nursing women
will not receive food assistance." Individual rations have
reportedly been cut to 300 grams per day, less than half of
the normal survival ration.



3. (U) WFP's current emergency operation is only resourced
at 333,000 metric tons (mts), or about 65 percent of the
total 2003 appeal. Pipeline breaks in cereals have begun
(the shortfall for December is reportedly 40,000 mts), with
no cereals scheduled to arrive in the eastern part of the
country beginning in January. WFP notes, "cereal shortfalls,
estimated at 156,000 tons over the next six months, will
affect all 3.8 million WFP beneficiaries countrywide from
May. In addition, local food production factories in the
east will stop functioning in April due to lack of wheat
flour, while Food For Work projects for the spring season
will have to be suspended unless new pledges are immediately
confirmed."



4. (U) The 2004 UN Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP),
issued last month, requested USD 191.9 million for food aid
(including USD 171 million, or 485,000 mts of food, through
WFP), out of the CAP total of USD 221.24 million. Note:
the subtotal for agricultural assistance is USD 4.16
million, of which USD 3.5 million is for the Food and
Agriculture Organization's projects to increase local food
production. End note.




5. (U) Despite marked improvements in nutritional status
since the first internationally sponsored survey in 1998,
WFP and UNICEF's recent report stilldocumented a 41 percent
severe malnutrition rate for children under seven.
Additionally, the recent FAO-WFP Crop and Food Supply
Assessment Mission stated that while the 2003/04 cereals
production is forecast at 4.16 million tons (the best
harvest over the last nine years), domestic cereals
production will still fall 944,000 mts short of needs. The

country will again have to depend on substantial external
food assistance, as its capacity to import commercially
remains highly constrained.



--------------------------

--
Monitoring and access: progress but no victory


--------------------------

--



6. (U) In Executive Director Jim Morris' December 2 letter
to Secretary Powell, he outlines some of the progress WFP
has achieved during the past year, including:

- obtained access to one additional district;
- increased the number of monitoring visits per month from
425 last year to 503 this year;
- obtained access to focus group discussions with
beneficiaries, and consumer markets in Pyongyang (important
for monitoring, targeting and understanding food security);
- experienced a reduction in number of monitoring requests
that have been rejected, down from 8 percent in 2001 to 0.8
percent in the past six months;
- received permission to use mobile communications in WFP
vehicles; and
- obtained official and unofficial wage and price
information (important for analyzing food insecurity at the
household level).



7. (SBU) While none of these represent substantive change
in the openness of the North Korean regime, WFP maintains
that it has "managed to achieve progress since February
through our persistent efforts in this area." Note. The
recently released Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff
report (visit of Keith Luse and Frank Januzzi in August
2003) commented that WFP had taken some "small but
significant steps" to enhance its operations and to prevent
food aid diversion.



8. (SBU) Executive Director Morris, WFP Regional Director
for Asia, Anthony Banbury, and UN resident humanitarian
coordinator in North Korea, Masood Hyder, have continued to
raise program oversight constraints and impediments with the
highest level of DPRK authorities. WFP has expressed
appreciation for U.S. efforts, both public and private, to
raise better monitoring and greater access issues both with
the North Koreans and our regional allies.



9. (SBU) Public reports of diversion of food aid, such as an
early October 2003 CNN story about food aid sold in one of
the public markets, have been shown to be bi-lateral food
assistance, not U.S. food aid donated through WFP and its
implementing partners.



--------------------------


Looking to the U.S. for leadership


--------------------------





10. (SBU) U.S. Mission/Rome has been approached numerous
times about whether and when the U.S. might "close the loop"
on our 2003 "offer" of 100,000 tons. The Rome
representation of the Republic of Korea remains in frequent
contact regarding U.S. food aid policy for DPRK. While
ROK's donation to WFP has remained steady at 100,000 tons,
it has expressed concern about our drop in donations (from
USD 102 million in 2001 to 31 million in 2003). The British
and Australian governments have made indirect inquiries
about current U.S. policy, as has a major international NGO.



11. (SBU) The recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee
staff report (referred to above) which commented that "North
Korean officials are convinced that the United States is
using food as a weapon," generated a great deal of press
attention. That in turn sparked additional inquiries.



12. (SBU) Obviously, it is in our interest to be and to be
seen on the high road. Allegations of using food as a
weapon weaken our position to exert leadership in dealing
with the DPRK. For this reason, as well as for the
humanitarian considerations noted in WFP's statements, we
recommend that the U.S. reach a quick, favorable decision on
the remaining 60,000 tons of the Secretary's offer for food
aid in 2003.



--------------------------



--------------------------


Conclusion - Personal Comment from Ambassador Hall


--------------------------



--------------------------





13. (SBU) Having visited North Korea six times since 1996,
I have seen our food aid feeding hungry North Koreans. I
will never forget the visits outside of Pyongyang where
children were abandoned by hungry parents unable to feed
them. More than the individual stories of people in dire
need, I saw the impact our humanitarian assistance had on
attitudes towards the United States. While the hideous
regime is still in place, the ordinary people who would run
from a Westerner seven years ago, were thanking me the last
time I was there. Our gift of 20 million bags that say
"gift of the people of the United States" are still being
used as suitcases throughout the country. People were well
aware that the United States was helping them in their time
of need.



14. (SBU) I understand there are numerous other serious
political factors in our relationship with North Korea, and
will not presume to speak about them. But I do know that
the U.S. policy to not use food as a weapon is sound and
just. Especially in a time when our moral authority is
questioned, providing food for our enemies when they are
hungry will yield rewards. Hall


NNNN
2003ROME05625 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED