7 April 2009
North Korea would be a lot better off if it could export legal products as good as its counterfeit Viagra. The country's ruler, Kim Jong-il, cannot admit that his father's celebrated economic doctrine of juche, or self-reliance, has failed. He keeps the country tightly sealed and pretends all is rosy while one-third of the population is so desperately short of food that it is suffering from malnutrition, according to the United Nations World Food Program.
7 April 2009
Kim Jong Il has expressed "great satisfaction" that North Korea succeeded Sunday in launching a satellite into orbit. The North Korean leader's satisfaction, as state news media explained it Monday, was in no way diminished by a worldwide expert consensus, based on tracking data, that the satellite did not go into orbit but plopped into the Pacific, where it apparently sank. [...] In the months-long run-up to the rocket launch, the country's most important domestic problem -- a chronic shortage of food -- was not glossed over by official media. Indeed, North Koreans were encouraged to collect their own feces as fertilizer for state farms and to go to the countryside to help with crop preparation. Under Kim, the government has not been able to feed its people. As many as a million people died of famine in the 1990s. Malnutrition and stunting are still widespread, according to the U.N. World Food Program, which estimates that about 37 percent of the population will require food assistance this year.
4 April 2009
As North Korea defied the world with a controversial rocket launch, UN officials say millions of people in the impoverished nation are going hungry due to a severe food crisis. Following successive poor harvests, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) expects up to 40% of North Korea’s population -an estimated 8.7mn people-will urgently need food aid in the coming months. “We hope the international community will continue to remember the food crisis in the DPRK (North Korea). The humanitarian needs should not be overlooked by other events,” the WFP’s Beijing-based spokeswoman Lena Savelli said ahead of yesterday’s rocket launch.
4 April 2009
[...] KING: Some breaking news this morning: North Korea launches a long-range rocket. The rocket failed to reach orbit, instead landing in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. That's according to U.S. and Canadian aerospace defense officials. Joining us now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman. She was President Clinton's North Korean - Korea policy coordinator, and she participated -- quite rare -- in direct talks with Kim Jong-Il, the reclusive president of North Korea. [...] KING: And because of [the level of global opposition to this launch], when you talk about potential sanctions, one of the few things that gets in is emergency food aid, from time to time. But you hear from all the governments and nongovernmental organizations that they believe a lot of that food goes to the president and to the military and not the starving people of North Korea, right? SHERMAN: Well, in fact, the North Koreans have decided they don't want the World Food Program's aid because of complicated negotiations about the terms for that aid. That's terrible for the North Korean people. There's probably an entire generation with stunted growth, stunted mental capability. And so, as the day comes that there is reconciliation with the South, it is going to be a big lift for that economy to help North Korea. KING: The six-party talks are the platform for the diplomacy. The United States is a key partner there, as well as Russia, China, South Korea and Japan.
4 April 2009
North Korea’s launch of a rocket on April 5 defied several United Nations Security Council resolutions and puts pressure on the international community to crack down on what the U.S. and its allies see as Pyongyang’s attempt to build a nuclear bomb. But how do you punish a country that’s willing to starve its own people so that it can buy tanks, missiles and nuclear technology? [...] Malnutrition afflicts a huge swathe of the population. The U.N. mobilizes a massive international aid effort that feeds millions of North Koreans who are on the verge of starvation. U.N. programs delivered more than $1.7 billion worth of food to about a third of the population between 1995 and 2005. In the coming year, more than a third of North Korea’s 23 million people are expected to need food aid from other countries, the United Nations World Food Program said in a report last December.
30 March 2009
It's a small, isolated Asian country, yet North Korea has managed to dominate world headlines for decades. [...] The media are under direct state control, with North Koreans offered little access to outside news sources and foreign journalists rarely allowed in to the country. [...] One story the North Korean media are accused of underplaying is the food crisis that has gripped the country. The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that 8.7 million people there will be in need of food aid in 2008-2009.
30 March 2009
[...] Three refugee settlements in Dadaab, in northern Kenya have witnessed an influx of new arrivals. The Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahaley camps which have a capacity of 90,000 are now holding 260,000 refugees, according to Emmanuel Nyabera, the UNHCR’s spokesperson. The agency estimates that that the camp could have up to 360,000 refugees by end of this year. New refugees are sharing cramped tents with their relatives or strangers. Some have put makeshift up shelter under trees. There are fears of humanitarian crisis if the trend continues. [...] Human Rights Watch is now calling on the Kenyan government to provide land to build a new camp to accommodate 100,000 refugees, adding its voice to UNICEF, UNHCR and World Food Programme, which last November, asked authorities to help ease the congestion.
30 March 2009
[...] The Hermit Kingdom, with a per capita income of $1,150, is one of the world's poorest countries, has chronic food shortages, and relies on food aid from foreign countries to feed its population. Sadly, it has just kicked out five groups distributing American food aid and announced it will reject future U.S. food assistance. In the 1990s as many as 2 million North Koreans starved to death, and there are high levels of malnutrition, while Kim has enjoyed the cognac, French wine, caviar, shark fin soup and other delicacies he is reported to ingest. The United Nations World Food Program has said that of the nation's 23 million people, about 9 million - mostly children, pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly - will urgently need food aid in the impending "lean season" as food stocks from last year's harvest run low.
23 March 2009
North Korea detained two Americans for illegally crossing its border and is investigating them, the communist country's official news agency said Saturday. (...) The North also is locked in a standoff with regional powers over its nuclear program, and earlier this week expelled five U.S. groups that distribute much-needed food aid in a country where the World Food Program says millions are going hungry. It has also repeatedly shut its southern border in recent days to protest joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
19 March 2009
Two US journalists were detained by the North Koreans on Tuesday while reporting from the China-North Korea border. The BBC's Michael Bristow was also on the border on Tuesday. Here he reports on what he found. (...) The World Food Programme says that nearly nine million North Koreans will need foreign food aid this year. This rural face is one that North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong-il, does not want the outside world to see.
- 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