News / Asia

Aid Agencies Report Severe North Korean Food Shortage

This photo taken on September 23, 2010 shows residents drying crops outside their homes at a collective farm located about 20 kilometers from the center of Pyongyang
This photo taken on September 23, 2010 shows residents drying crops outside their homes at a collective farm located about 20 kilometers from the center of Pyongyang

Five American aid agencies report the food shortage in North Korea has become severe. They are appealing for quick assistance to feed the isolated country’s most vulnerable people. There are hurdles, however, to resuming aid to North Korea.

The five aid groups say many North Koreans are foraging for wild grasses and herbs because of widespread food shortages.

Seven experts from the groups visited North Korea earlier this month at the request of the government. They were given unprecedented access to assess the food situation, and report the worst winter in decades has killed key crops. At the same time, the team says, rising global food prices make it difficult for North Korea to import sufficient food.

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Donggkuk University in Seoul, says it is unusual for North Korean authorities to allow such transparency.

Kim says officials there have permitted a more objective view of the situation so the global community can know about the depth of the food shortage.

The five organizations are experienced in assisting the isolated state: Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resources Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision. But in 2009 they were ordered to leave.

The United Nations’ World Food Program says its supply for North Korea will be exhausted in about a month. WFP staff arrived in the North this week to conduct a fresh assessment of food needs.

The U.S. State Department says Washington is monitoring the situation but is not preparing to resume aid. The U.S. suspended aid two years ago because it suspected the donated food was being diverted to the military or otherwise not reaching those most in need.

Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. North and South Korea also have no formal ties and remain technically in a state of war since a 1953 truce that ended three years of conflict.

In previous years, South Korea was the primary source of food for the North, sending hundreds of thousands of tons of rice and fertilizer. Since 2008, however, Seoul’s conservative government has linked aid to the communist state’s efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are believed to have died in a famine during the 1990s.

A government agency in Seoul says the average adult man in the North now is about 15 centimeters shorter than average South Koreans.

Humanitarian organizations say children in the North show signs of mental impairment due to a lack of vitamins in their diet.

A South Korean non-profit group, Good Friends, this week said North Korean soldiers no longer receive rice but rather corn, often less than 300 grams a day. It says winter training has been stopped because too many soldiers are malnourished.

The international community has been reluctant to renew assistance to Pyongyang after violent incidents last year. North Korea is blamed for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel in the Yellow Sea. Pyongyang denies responsibility. The North also shelled a South Korean island, saying it was provoked by a South Korean military exercise.


You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs