US embassy cable - 02KATHMANDU871

LOOTING LEADS TO SUSPENSION OF WFP POVERTY PROGRAM IN REMOTE DISTRICTS

Identifier: 02KATHMANDU871
Wikileaks: View 02KATHMANDU871 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu
Created: 2002-05-03 12:07:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: EAID EAGR PTER AORC ASEC PHUM NP WFP Maoist Insurgency
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
ROME FOR FODAG 
LONDON FOR POL/RIEDEL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID, EAGR, PTER, AORC, ASEC, PHUM, NP, WFP, Maoist Insurgency 
SUBJECT: LOOTING LEADS TO SUSPENSION OF WFP POVERTY 
PROGRAM IN REMOTE DISTRICTS 
 
REF: KATHMANDU 717 
 
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 
insurgents. 
 
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 
violence. 
 
"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. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
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. 
MALINOWSKI 

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