A two-day U.N. conference on humanitarian aid for Cambodia ended today with countries pledging $116 million to continue an emergency feeding program for several million Cambodians.
The conference also called on Cambodia to speed up deliveries of rice and rice seed to civilians who are supposed to receive it but often have not because of the government's shortage of workers, trucks and general organization.
Conference president Andrew Peacock, Australia's foreign minister, said, "The situation . . . remains grave and precarious and a further crisis could occur if adequate and timely measures are not taken."
Peacock urged Cambodian officials to open provincial airports to international and domestic flights carrying relief supplies. Up to now, those airports have been reserved solely for the military. He also said officials must let in more international officials to assist in the distribution.
"The donor countries have a legitimate interest in ascertaining that their contributions are effectively translately into deliveries to those who are most in need, equitably and without discrimination," said Peacock.
Peacock also said Cambodia has to improve its government infrastructure and logistics and let more doctors and medical personnel into the country.
Consultations are occurring on these points between Cambodians and U.N. and International Red Cross officials, he said, but these talks have to move faster. Peacock welcomed the recent decision to allow international relief flights to fly into Phnom Penh along the most direct route from Bankok, Thailand, and not over Vietnam, as before.
Many of the 62 nations attending the conference criticized the Phnom Penh government for slow and inadequate distribution of emergency aid. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher blamed Vietnam and the Soviet Union for the crisis.
"As in good faith we increase our own levels of commitment," said Christopher, "we appeal again to the authorities in Phnom Penh, to the government of Vietnam, to the supporters of Vietnam: do not preside over the death of a nation and a people. Permit an effective relief effort to go forward."
Christopher said Cambodians face another wave of mass starvation and disease within months and maybe weeks, if aid does not get to them quickly. The United States added a pledge of $29.6 million to the $85 million promised earlier.
The Phnom Penh government is controlled by Vietnam, which invaded in December 1978 -- ousting the communist Pol Pot regime and installing Heng Samrin as president.
For months there have been reports from U.N. and Red Cross workers in Cambodia, and from U.S. officials in Bangkok who have talked with refugees, that tons of rice and other supplies are going to government workers instead of the general population.
The Heng Samrin government which is not recognized by the U.N. General Assembly, was not invited to the conference. It has not replied to such charges.
According to the foreign minister of Singapore, Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, the Soviet charge d'affaires in Singapore told him, "There is not food crisis in Kampuchea. Everything is okay. This is an imperialist exaggeration."
The Soviet Union and Vietnam were invited to the conference but turned down invitations, saying the conference was based on a false premise. Both sent observers.
The idea for the conference came from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At a news conference today, the ASEAN foreign ministers called it a success.
"The main object of this conference was to get funds, and that is done," said Rajaratnam. "If I can be satisfied that hundreds of thousands of Kampucheans will be alive, who would otherwise be dead at the end of this year, then the conference will have suceeded."
But he was not optimistic that Cambodia would listen to the recommendations of the conference. "If we had the power to persuade Vietnam, Heng Samrin and most important of all, Russia, to do what we want them to do, there would be no problem."
Rajaratnam said those countries "objective is to see that all aid should be siphoned, directed to the Heng Samrin regime." He foresaw the problem continuing for five to ten years, with prehaps a million Cambodians establishing a new nation in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border.