Seventeen countries still need "human rights" clearance by the Carter administration before they will be able to receive the commodities earmarked for them under the U.S. Food for Peace program, a senior Agriculture Department official said yesterday.
General Sales Manager Kelly Harrison, referring to a two-month review which has brought the flow of food and almost to a standstill, said "we hope (this) next round of countries won't be held up nearly as much".
He added that the department had not yet been told "which of these countries will be considered troublesome for the purposes of human rights."
A temporary logjam was broken Friday when State Department coordinators of the administration's human right policy told the Department of Agriculture that it could resume negotiations with 11 countries for new food aid deliveries.
However, three of those countries - Bangladesh, Indozesia and South Korea - reportedly were deemed to have "serious" human rights violations. This means that the governments of those so-called "troublesome" countries will have to prove that the food aid benefits the needy before it can be shipped. Congress wrote that human rights requirement into the 1977 foreign aid law signed Aug. 3 by President Carter.
The purpose of the provision was to ensure that U.S. food aid benefits needy or hungry people - rather than any repressive governments which receive the assistance.
As a result of the provision, new aid was delayed beginning Oct. 1 - the start of fiscal year 1978 - while a coordinating group headed by Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher conducted a review of human rights conditions.
The stoppage has covered Title 1 of Public Law 480 (Food for Peace). Title 1 - the main mechanism for shipping American food aid abroad - provides low-interest. Long-term loans to foreign governments for buying U.S. agricultural commodieties.
The State Department declined his week to make public the list of 11 countries it has ruled on.
It was learned that Egypt - the largest recipient of the food buying loans - has been cleared and is not considered to have human rights problems.
Another 17 countries are among those to which the Department of Agriculture wants to provide the aid this fiscal year.
The 28 countries designated for the assistance this year are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egupt, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zaire, Zambia, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, South Korea, Lebanon, Peru, portugal, Syria and Tunisia.
Officials reportedly are looking for ways to continue the food aid flow to Haiti even though United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young told Haitian officials earlier this year that it had a serious human rights problem.