Food aid helpsThe United States officially announced its plan to provide 500,000 tons of food aid to North Korea the day before yesterday. The World Food Programme will deliver 400,000 tons and non-government organizations the rest will be channeled through non-government organizations over a 12-month period starting next month.
We welcome the U.S. government’s humanitarian decision and hope that this measure will be supported by a transparent distribution system.
“We agreed that WFP and NGO staff whould have better access to people in North Korea who are starving plus an efficient monitoring system for the distribution of food aid,” a spokesman for the U.S. government said.
In the past, North Korea refused monitoring agents who could speak Korean. The country requested that any plans to monitor distribution should be announced to the North six to ten days in advance.
In fact, North Korea blocked the possibility of voluntary monitoring from the outset. However, it increased the number of monitors from 50 to 65 and will allow a Korean-speaking monitor to participate on the condition that he is not an ethnic Korean.
The North also accepted temporary monitoring and monitoring agents will be allowed access to food storage facilities.
These changes of heart indicate that the food crisis in the North is desperate and that the Americans are firmly committed to improving bilateral relations with the North, with the ongoing development of the nuclear negotiations.
The amount of food aid that the U.S. is scheduled to supply is equivalent to one tenth of the minimum annual requirement 5.2 million tons of food, for North Koreans. This is the amount of food kindergarten children, pregnant women and the elderly need for half a year.
The number of malnourished North Koreans is estimated at 6.4 million. If it is not used for military use and is distributed to people in need in an appropriate manner, U.S. food aid will contribute greatly to resolving the food crisis. However, the aid will arrive in North Korea in July. The most urgent task facing the North now is to get through May and June. If the North has accumulated emergency rice for military purposes, it should survive by providing food to the people.
In addition, the South Korean government should stop looking to the left and right and get ready to help pay for a possible humanitarian emergency.