October 17, 2008


US to send food aid to North Korea


The US is to dispatch a fourth shipment of food aid to North Korea this week ahead of a predicted harsh winter in the solitary nuclear-armed state, said aid agencies Thursday, 16 October 2008.


More than 894,000 of North Korea's most vulnerable people mainly children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the elderly will receive daily rations from shipment of 25,060 tonnes of bulk corn and soy, said the agencies in a statement.


President of Mercy Corps, one of five humanitarian agencies that would deliver urgent aid, Nancy Lindborg said the new shipment of food will bring critical sustenance to many hungry people in North Korea and they're very pleased with the success in getting food to needy people for the past few months and are confident that efficient food distributions will continue into the winter.


The other agencies are World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, Global Resource Services and Christian Friends of Korea.


On arrival at the western North Korean port of Nampo in the latter half of November, the food will be rationed to recipients through public distribution centers, orphanages, schools, hospitals and nurseries in Chagang and North Pyongan provinces, said the statement.


The food aid, funded by the US Agency for International Development's office of Food for Peace, is the first US food assistance programme for North Korea since 2000.


According to the statement, the five-agency partnership is on track to distribute 100,000 tonnes of food aid during the year-long programme, reaching 895,000 people.


The UN's World Food Programme is distributing another 400,000 tonnes in assistance to the US.


In July, the WFP warned that hunger in North Korea, which is negotiating with the US and other powers to end its nuclear weapons drive, is at its worst since the famine years of the 1990s.


Senior Vice President of International Programmes for World Vision in the US, George Ward said with North Korea's people in a dubious situation facing low food stocks and the onset of a harsh winter, the primary concern is the country's most vulnerable groups of people, especially the mothers and children.


He said they are moving urgently to ensure the assistance reaches to those in dire straits at this critical moment.

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