Hunger 'worsening' in North Korea

2011-09-27 16:00
Washington - Relief groups on Monday made a new plea to the United States to offer food assistance to North Korea, warning that hunger was worsening and could develop into a major crisis next year.

The US earlier this month gave flood relief to North Korea, with which it has tense relations, but it has held off from approving food shipments due to concerns that the communist regime will use the aid for political ends.

The five US aid groups which delivered the flood aid said they monitored distribution to civilians and were alarmed at what they saw in North Korea as heavy rains and winds had destroyed buildings, crops and roads.

"Health and food security, always fragile in North Korea, are deteriorating and people are vulnerable," Matt Ellingson of Christian relief group Samaritan's Purse said in a joint statement by the five organizations.

"Already hungry children have been pushed over the edge by continued food shortages and diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor hygiene," he said.

"Without immediate and direct intervention there is significant risk for a far greater crisis to unfold in the coming six to nine months," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans died in a famine in the 1990s.

The relief groups said they did not understand why President Barack Obama's administration has not given a response to their calls made months ago for a food aid program focused on women and children.

"Many innocent people are at risk today, and we know that food aid can save lives," said Jim White of Mercy Corps.

Modest contribution

The Obama administration has repeatedly said that no decision has been made on food aid. Robert King, the US special envoy for human rights on North Korea, visited in May and said the regime must ensure tight monitoring of aid.

Many members of the rival Republican Party adamantly oppose food aid to North Korea, charging that the aid would prop up Kim Jong-Il's regime as it prepares for a national celebration next year and diverts resources to its nuclear program.

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted in June to bar US food assistance to North Korea. But the Democratic-led Senate removed similar language as they moved ahead this month with an appropriations bill.

The Obama administration has opened talks with North Korea but has insisted that the communist regime needs to commit clearly to past agreements to give up its nuclear weapons and to improve relations with US-allied South Korea.

A senior administration official recently said that the United States was waiting for clearer signals from North Korea.

"The United States, along with other nations, has made a modest contribution to flood assistance. And I think it would be fair to say that we are still awaiting a clear signal from Pyongyang about what their response is to our overall proposals," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The US government said it granted $900 000 in flood relief. The private relief groups pooled together their own resources and said the cargo plane included more than $3m in supplies including oral rehydration salts, tarps and ready-to-eat foods.

The aid groups distributed food aid to North Korea in 2008 and 2009 until the regime abruptly expelled them.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  north korea  |  us

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Lego sale!

Buy 2 or more Lego toys and get 15% off. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Spontaneity and bright ideas are emphasized today but there is a tendency to be too impulsive and you may want to keep a handle more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.