Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Transparency required in distribution of food aid to North Korea

A senior U.S. senator Richard Lugar called on the Obama administration to secure transparency in the distribution of food aid to North Korea before any resumption of the aid, which was suspended years ago over the same issue, is made.

The leading Republican senator at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued the statement amid reports that the Obama administration is reviewing North Korea’s request for food aid made through the North Korean mission in the United Nations in New York.

U.S. food aid to the North was suspended in early 2009 amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests and controversy over the transparency of food distribution. North Korea at the time refused to issue visas to Korean-speaking monitors, whose mission was to assure that the food was not funneled to the military and government elite.

The U.S. provided more than 2 million tons of food aid to the North over the past decade.

International relief organizations suspended humanitarian food aid to North Korea in early 2009 as the North Korean government expelled international monitors amid escalating tensions over its rocket test launch and an ensuing nuclear test, the second after one in 2006.

Relief organizations have said that North Korea will need about 1 million tons of food from abroad to feed its 24 million people every year amid reports that thousands have starved to death this winter.

[Korea Herald]

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