UN orders politics out of North Korean food aid

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th October 2011

Top United Nations (UN) humanitarian official Valerie Amos has urged regional powers to put aside politics and help North Korea’s growing food crisis.

Food aid by the South Korean and US governments was suspended in 2008 over North Korea’s nuclear program and food-monitoring problems. China is also believed to have cut food aid to North Korea.

Ms Amos said that partially as a result of the policy shift, 6 million North Koreans now urgently require aid.

During a 5-day visit to Pyongyang, Ms Amos told Associated Press “this is about helping the people who are most in need. It’s not about saying that this country has made a choice about spending its resources in one way rather than another. We don’t make those judgments in other countries, on humanitarian grounds”. 

In April 2011, the UN requested $218 million in emergency aid. However, only a third of this target has been met, due to concerns about whether and how the North Korean government is distributing the food.

Ms Amos admitted North Korean officials must take responsibility for the proper distribution of food to the public and provide reliable data, so that food donors can have confidence that their aid is making a difference.