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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More