News / Asia

Aid Groups Express Concern About North Korea's Harsh Winters

South Korean charities providing aid to North Korea are concerned that the harsh winter may be causing significant deaths in the impoverished communist state. The groups are optimistic, however, they will soon get permission from the South for a meeting in Pyongyang to discuss a full resumption of humanitarian aid.

The leader of an umbrella group for South Korean private aid organizations says unusually severe winter weather is taking its toll on North Koreans.

Park Hyun-seok is secretary general of the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea.

Park says he has learned from various reports and sources, including in the South Korean government that North Koreans are dying from the cold and the food situation is even worse than the hardship experienced in 1995.

Famine in the mid-1990 is believed to have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Since then North Korea has been dependent on foreign food as a result of natural disasters and mismanagement of its economy.

In recent weeks, temperatures have remained below freezing on much of the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s official news agency has reported that the historic cold is causing hardship for “people’s lives” and could severely hamper spring farming.

United Nations aid agencies began warning several months ago that millions in the country face food shortages, and say that undernourishment in North Korea is rampant. But they have not publicly reported unusual patterns of disease or health conditions this winter.

After military actions by North Korea last year, Seoul cut off all but a minimal trickle of aid for infants and the most vulnerable adults.

The NGO Council, representing 56 aid groups, says it expects next week to get permission from the South Korean government to attend a meeting next month in the North.

Pyongyang last month asked the council for talks in early February on resuming assistance. The authorities there also promised to allow South Korean aid groups to inspect food distribution centers to ensure transparency.

Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo says inspections must be agreed on before Seoul lets aid resume.

She says Pyongyang also needs to demonstrate a responsible attitude for last year’s acts of aggression and promise not to repeat them. If that happens then aid from the South could be resumed at the levels that were in place before May 24, when trade and aid supplies were suspended.

North Korea is blamed for the sinking of a South Korean navy ship last March, and it shelled a South Korean island, killing four people, in November. It denies blame in the ship sinking, and says it fired on the island in response to South Korean military activity.

Council leader Park says Pyongyang’s willingness to allow unprecedented inspections of distribution sites would be significant for other reasons.

Park says it is a symbolic measure through which the humanitarian groups could show the South Korean people and a skeptical international community that aid is being distributed to the right people. He says the resumption of assistance could help re-start official inter-Korean talks.

South Korea, the United States, Japan and the European Union were the leading donors to North Korea for much of the late 1990s and early part of the last decade. But their contributions fell sharply after they discovered that Pyongyang was operating a secret nuclear weapons program.

The international community has imposed numerous sanctions on the reclusive country for its nuclear program, missile testing, arms trading and other illicit activities. That has North Korea dependent on China for its economic survival.

There are no diplomatic ties between the two Koreas, which fought a civil war in the early 1950s. The conflict ended with a truce and no peace treaty has ever been signed.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid