Tuesday, February 23, 2010

UN official: North Korea should get food aid

Lynn Pascoe, the senior United Nations official who has just visited Pyongyang strongly defended international food aid to the so-called Hermit Kingdom.

"These are human beings that need the food. It's not the political system. This shouldn't be argued in a political way," U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe told CNN.

He said the United Nations is giving nutritional supplements to as many as 1.3 million of North Korea's 24 million people. But the U.N. World Food Programme has estimated that more than a third of the population needs food aid.

Pascoe, who earlier this month was the first top-level U.N. official to visit North Korea in six years, said, "There clearly is malnutrition at younger ages, so we're trying to help them with fortified food and up through the schools so that they can eat. There also was a very large program on immunizations for the children."

"Our problem is we don't have enough money coming in now to sustain some of those programs. ... But the truth of the matter is, we need to do more because these are people."

Pascoe insisted the United Nations can account for the food aid: "Our people believe they have a very clear idea of who's using the food, where it's going, and it's really for the good of the people who need it most."

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