International relief officials are mounting an urgent and massive new aid offensive to prevent Cambodia's grave food shortage from repeating itself in 1981.
United Nations officials met Wednesday with aid donor countries to plan a coordinated $260 million aid strategy for the rest of 1980. The plan marks a new stage in the war on Cambodian poverty.
Starvation has been eased considerably. Supplies look good through April. But now at stake is whether Cambodia's own agriculture can get going before the monsoons hit this summer. Without it, this potential rice-exporting country could continue its near-total dependence on world aid into the indefinite future.
The next 90 days will be crucial, say officials of the United Nation's Children's Fund. If widespread starvation is to be avoided this summer, 100,000 tons of food aid will have to be moved out to Cambodia's provincial capitals before the heavy rains hit in late May.
And if Cambodia is to have harvests in 1981, a major planting must take place by June. Some 40,000 tons of seed, fertilizer, and implements are needed.
"If we're going to make a long-term impact, we must now give more than a Band-aid. The Cambodians must get back on their own feet," says UNICEF's Tony Hewett.