Cargo of emergency aid from the US INGO Samaritan’s Purse arrives at Pyongyang airport for flood-hit North Korea on September 3. Relief groups on Monday made a new plea to the United States to offer food assistance to North Korea, warning that hunger was worsening and could develop into a major crisis next year.
Relief groups on Monday made a new plea to the United States to offer food assistance to North Korea, warning that hunger was worsening and could develop into a major crisis next year.
The United States earlier this month gave flood relief to North Korea, with which it has tense relations, but it has held off from approving food shipments due to concerns that the communist regime will use the aid for political ends.
The five US aid groups which delivered the flood aid said they monitored distribution to civilians and were alarmed at what they saw in North Korea as heavy rains and winds had destroyed buildings, crops and roads.
“Health and food security, always fragile in North Korea, are deteriorating and people are vulnerable,” Matt Ellingson of Christian relief group Samaritan’s Purse said in a joint statement by the five organisations.
“Already hungry children have been pushed over the edge by continued food shortages and diarrhea caused by dirty water and poor hygiene,” he said.
“Without immediate and direct intervention there is significant risk for a far greater crisis to unfold in the coming six to nine months,” he said.
He said that the relief groups did not understand why President Barack Obama’s administration has not given a response to their calls made months ago for a food aid programme focused on women and children.
“We fear that millions of North Koreans are caught in a political crossfire,” he said.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said that no decision has been made on food aid. Robert King, the US special envoy for human rights on North Korea, visited in May and said the regime must ensure tight monitoring of aid.
Many members of the rival Republican Party adamantly oppose food aid to North Korea, charging that the aid would prop up Kim Jong-Il’s regime as it prepares for a national celebration next year and diverts resources to its nuclear programme.