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Crocker Heading For Ethiopia Wherre More Food Relief Is Getting Through

January 9, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The top U.S. diplomat for Africa will leave Sunday on a trip that will take him to famine-ridden Ethiopia where rebels, perhaps stirred by an international outcry, have not attacked food convoys since October.

Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker also will visit Somalia and Kenya and may continue to Angola or meet with Angolan officials elsewhere if arrangements are made while he is in East Africa, said a U.S. official who demanded anonymity.

The easing of attacks on food convoys in Ethiopia was reported Friday by Alan Woods, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

″Obviously we have put a lot of pressure on the rebel movements through world media and world opinion and I think much of that pressure has been felt,″ he said.

Attacks on regular traffic through rebel areas have continued, but the last raid on trucks carrying relief supplies was Oct. 23, Woods said.

″We hope there is some discrimination being made by the rebel group between the humanitarian food convoys and other types of convoys,″ he said.

Crocker’s visit will focus attention on the situation in Ethiopia, where a Marxist government is under attack from guerrillas in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Eritrea provinces.

A meeting with Angolans, meanwhile, would give the United States another opportunity to press for the withdrawal of Cuban advisers there. But the government is holding off until the Reagan administration puts more pressure on South Africa to withdraw its forces from Namibia.

The official who discussed the trip Friday said a meeting with Crocker depended on the Angolans agreeing to it.

Disruption of food supplies by the guerrillas in Ethiopia has been cited by aid agencies as a major problem in distribution of food to the hungry. About 40 percent of the estimated 5 million to 7 million people facing starvation in a killer drought live in the Tigray and Eritrea provinces.

Woods, in a satellite interview with reporters in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Rome, Brussels and Hamburg, also welcomed the Soviet Union’s Dec. 30 announcement it will send food and medicine to Ethiopia.

During a 1985 famine that focused massive world attention on Ethiopia, the Soviets provided only transportation for supplies from other countries.

Woods urged the Soviets to funnel their aid through international organizations so donor groups can coordinate assistance, which is expected to total 1 million tons of food - enough to meet requirements for 1988.

Despite the positive developments he cited, Woods’ overall assessment of the Ethiopian situation was gloomy.

He was unable to cite any progress in U.S. efforts to persuade the Ethiopian government to revise economic policies that international agencies blame for the continuing inability of farmers to supply even a small percentage of the food required to feed their countrymen.

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