Viewing cable 03ROME5625
Title: END OF YEAR NORTH KOREA HUMANITARIAN WRAP-UP

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03ROME56252003-12-16 15:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Rome
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. 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶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. 
 
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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. 
 
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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 
 
 
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 2003ROME05625 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED