Needy Contras to Get Cash for Food, U.S. Says

Associated Press

The Reagan Administration will begin providing cash for food purchases to needy Contras inside Nicaragua, the Agency for International Development announced Friday.

The plan supplements food deliveries now being made to Contra camps in southern Honduras.

AID officials had said earlier this week that the Administration was considering the cash grants, to be distributed in the form of Nicaraguan currency delivered by Contra couriers based in Honduras to rebel units inside Nicaragua.

The emphasis will be on cash payments because of limits on the amount of food that the couriers can carry, officials said. Between 50 cents and $1 a day per Contra is planned.

$48-Million Program

The officials have said that many Contras face desperate food shortages and have relied on donations and credit to survive. Hundreds of Contras--perhaps thousands--have fled into Honduras from Nicaragua in search of food.

AID was designated to manage the $48-million non-lethal aid program approved by Congress in late March, a week after the Contras and Nicaragua's Sandinista government reached a truce agreement that allows for such aid to the rebels.

But no deliveries have so far been been made inside Nicaragua because of a variety of obstacles.

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