Saturday, September 10, 2005

More on food aid to North Korea

To supplement the Lefkowitz post, I want to add a related news story that discusses North Korea's reported requests to multilateral aid agencies (such as the United Nations World Food Program) to change the way they work by ending emergency food supplies and working on development projects instead. The AFP story discusses South Korea's contributions and WFP efforts to work with South Korea on supplying those contributions in a way that won't reward Pyongyang for bad behavior and better ensure that food is reaching the most vulnerable.

The WFP said last week that North Korea's food situation has improved somewhat with recent harvests of potatoes, wheat, and barley as well as the arrival of South Korean rice (South Korea is now North Korea's main supplier of rice and fertilizer).

The US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea recently reported that food donations to North Korea, estimated at about two billion dollars over the past decade, were not being delivered to the North's most vulnerable populations. This is partly related to the use of food as a means of control that I mentioned in the Lefkowitz post.

In a letter to South Korea's Unification Ministry, WFP chief Mark Noland urged Seoul to channel a larger share of its assistance to North Korea through the WFP so that "the humanitarian community as a whole would make much greater progress in guaranteeing that food aid is reaching its intended beneficiaries."

Noland also suggested that using food aid to pay North Korea to fulfill its international obligations or to engage in dialogue was a bad precedent for the international community.

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