U.N., Aid Groups Highlight Food Aid Need In North Korea

World Food Program (WFP) delegates “on Wednesday stressed the need for major food aid for North Korea, while a cautious South Korea called for transparent distribution of any assistance,” Agence France-Presse reports.  

Seven delegates led by Terri Toyota, WFP’s director of government donor relations, “met senior officials of the South’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs,” the news service notes. “Toyota said (the North) needs 434,000 tonnes in aid for 6.1 million people in the most vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and pregnant women,” a statement from the ministry said. The numbers are based on WFP and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent assessment of the situation in North Korea.

The unification ministry said it would “make reviews in consideration of overall inter-Korea relations … and monitoring to ensure transparent distribution” (3/30). 

In related news, aid groups working in North Korea on Tuesday “issued a rare joint appeal for increased food donations, warning that millions of vulnerable citizens are living on a knife edge,” the Guardian reports.  

The groups – including Save the Children, the Swiss government’s relief agency, Ireland’s Concern Worldwide, Belgium’s Handicap International, and France’s Triangle Generation Humanitaire – say bad weather and livestock disease have hampered domestic production, while high global food and fuel prices are making it harder to import supplies. They fear that unless aid is increased now, it will be too late to support people who are already chronically malnourished through the lean season that begins in May,” the newspaper writes (Branigan, 3/29).

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