18 March 2009
North Korea, which suffers from chronic food shortages and where some people are believed to be on the brink of starvation, has rejected food aid from the United States, the U.S. State Department said. [...] The secretive and impoverished state is deeply uncomfortable with foreign aid workers heading deep into its countryside, seeing them as potential spies or troublemakers. It has long sought to have the aid brought to central points and do the distribution itself. The United States and the U.N. World Food Programme want full control over distribution to make sure the food reaches the most vulnerable and is not, as some suspect, diverted to the military.
18 March 2009
Chronically hungry North Korea has refused further US food aid, the State Department and aid groups said Thursday, as a showdown mounts over a feared missile test by the communist state. [...] Under a deal reached in June last year, the United States agreed to distribute 500,000 metric tonnes of food to North Korea -- 400,000 through the UN World Food Program and the rest through the NGOs. With the WFP in charge of mass distribution, the NGOs focused on reaching the most vulnerable, including children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. It had brought in 71,000 tonnes and distributed 50,000 so far, Portella said.
18 March 2009
The US says North Korea has refused to accept any further food aid supplies. Five aid groups have been told to leave the North by the end of March, the US state department and aid groups said. The UN World Food Programme estimates that almost nine million people - more than a third of the North Korean population - are in need of food aid. [...] Robin Lodge, a spokesman for the programme, said he had yet to hear anything about whether WFP staff would also be affected, but he added that he was very concerned. North Korea is now entering the most critical period of the year for food aid, he said - where stocks from the previous harvest are starting to run out and it is too early for the next harvest. "We're very worried that people could be seriously hungry there," he told the BBC. "We estimate that nearly nine million people are in serious need of food aid."
18 March 2009
North Korea has rejected American food shipments and asked aid groups to leave the country by the end of the month, the United States and a leading aid agency said Tuesday, another sign of mounting tension as Pyongyang plans a rocket launch that Washington sees as cover for a long-range missile test. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the North gave no reason for refusing to accept U.S. food aid. [...] The five aid groups working in the North to distribute U.S. food were asked to leave by the end of March, said Joy Portella, spokeswoman for the international aid agency Mercy Corps. Their distribution program had been scheduled to run until June. [...] The United States had been scheduled to provide 400,000 metric tons of food aid to North Korea through the U.N. World Food Program, and 100,000 metric tons through the five aid groups, of which Mercy Corps was the lead distributor. [...] A WFP spokeswoman had no comment on the North's decision.
17 March 2009
North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il praised China as a regional bulwark before arriving for a visit on Tuesday that underscores Beijing's go-softly approach to Pyongyang's missile launch plans that have alarmed the region. Kim is not related to the North's supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, and wields little military power, but his five-day trip signals China's desire to woo North Korea as other powers warn against its plan to fire a rocket between April 4 to 8. [...] North Korea has also ordered international food aid workers to leave the country this month over a dispute with the United States, the Financial Times reported. Pyongyang had told Washington that U.N. World Food Program (WFP) staff will be barred from distributing food aid after March. The WFP said earlier this month it had scaled back its food aid in North Korea after several months of funding shortfalls, adding that operations were at 15 percent of planned levels.
17 March 2009
North Koreans are facing “dire and desperate” human rights conditions under a regime that is bent on personal survival, a United Nations envoy to the country said. “The overall picture of human rights implementation in the country was grim,” the UN said, citing a report by Vitit Muntarbhorn presented yesterday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. [...] The North Korean regime has used food grants as a means of control over the people, Muntarbhorn said. The policy failed in the 1990s when the country suffered famine caused by floods, drought and economic mismanagement. As many as 8.7 million people need food aid in the country, the envoy said. North Korea’s food shortage this year is estimated to reach 1.17 million metric tons, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said last month. The UN World Food Programme said in a Dec. 8 report that North Korea is facing a shortfall of more than 800,000 tons of grain for the year through October 2009.
17 March 2009
North Korea has ordered international food aid workers to leave the country this month over a dispute with the US that comes amid rising tensions as Pyongyang prepares to launch a long-range missile. Pyongyang has told Washington that United Nations World Food Programme [WFP] staff will be barred from distributing food aid after March. The Stalinist regime has also told US non-governmental organisations to leave this month, and rescinded permission for other humanitarian groups to visit, the Financial Times has learned.
16 March 2009
North Korea's first pizzeria has opened in the capital Pyongyang, according to a Japan-based newspaper. Chefs were sent to Italy for training by leader Kim Jong-il, who said North Koreans should be able to try the world's best foods, said Choson Sinbo. Most people in the secretive communist state live on an income of about $1,800 (£1,265) a year, but a wealthy elite can afford a more luxurious lifestyle. [...] North Korea is among the world's poorest countries, relying on international food aid to feed its people. According to the World Food Programme, up to nine million North Koreans were facing urgent food shortages this winter.
10 March 2009
The World Food Program (WFP) says it is decreasing its number of international monitoring staff and closing down field offices in North Korea after failing to receive food aid from the U.S. According to the Voice of America Tuesday, the U.N. food agency must scale back its humanitarian food assistance program in the North after several months of funding shortfalls. The agency is currently operating a mere 15 percent of its planned operations. The WFP has received contributions of 22-point-seven million U.S. dollars, or about four-and-a-half percent of the 500 million dollar budget, for its planned emergency operations.
6 March 2009
Behind the long-range missile it is preparing to launch and the stockpile of plutonium it claims to have "weaponized," North Korea has an embarrassing and insoluble weakness. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the country cannot feed its people. Perennially dependent on food aid, North Korea has become a truculent ward of the wealthy countries it threatens. [...] Inside North Korea, people with trading savvy can now get plenty to eat. But hunger remains widespread. About 37 percent of the population will require food assistance in the coming year, according to a U.N. food assessment in December, and a World Food Program official said the rate of stunting among children younger than 6 has changed little in the past five years.
- UN Appeals for $98 Million for North Korea Needs Source: The New York Times
- WFP official thanks Russia for supplying flour to DPR Korea Source: TASS
- Concern as severe weather hits North Korean crops Source: Reuters
- North Korea Famine Not Imminent but Flood Impact Not Yet Clear: U.N. Source: The New York Times / Reuters
- North Korea floods: Death toll raised, WFP sends food aid Source: BBC News