Saturday, July 04, 2009

Only a trickle of food aid to North Korea

The flexing of its military muscle is not winning North Korea any friends in the international community. In fact, there has been virtually no international food aid to the starving state since Pyongyang's second nuclear test last May 25, according to the World Food Program. As a result, the U.N. agency has drastically cut food distributions in North Korea to 4,500 tons per month, from a planned 50,000 tons per month.

If Pyongyang continues to refuse 333,000 tons of grain from the United States, foreign assistance will only amount to 120,000 tons and the shortfall may reach 1.17 million tons.

A government expert said that the only way to alleviate the grave situation is for Seoul to give aid. The Lee Myung-bak administration has not shipped rice and fertilizer aid to the North since assuming office. While acknowledging the need for food assistance to the North, the government says its hands are tied because of the unfavorable public opinion in the South, particularly since the second nuclear test in May and the subsequent missile launches.

[The Korea Herald]

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