Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aid groups say North Korea is heading for major famine

North Korea’s food crisis is more severe than previously estimated due to last year’s poor harvest, Good Friends, a human rights group focused on North Korea, said yesterday.

The group said the current situation is a prelude to a recurrence of the massive famine of the 1990s. During the infamous food crisis of the 1990s, the North’s population fell by between 2.5 million and 3 million, a rare North Korean government survey showed.

“If this situation continues, we will starve to death in June,” a North Korean official was quoted as saying in the activist group’s report. “We don’t have a single grain of rice, and that is our reality,” said another.

The group said the food crisis is particularly severe for factory workers and other professionals outside Pyongyang, while government officials, soldiers and residents of the capital city are given priority rations.

Meanwhile, United Press International reported yesterday that North Korea and China have boosted border patrols to stop North Koreans trying to escape poverty and hunger. U.S. aid group Helping Hands Korea also said it has received reports of “°shoot-on-sight” orders given to North Korean border guards who encounter people trying to cross the border illegally.

[JoongAng Daily]

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