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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora