US food aid arrives in DPRK

According to CNN:

A U.S. ship has arrived at a North Korean port carrying 38,000 tons of food aid to be distributed to some of the millions living in hunger, U.N. sources said Sunday.

The delivery is part of a new deal signed by U.S., U.N., and North Korean officials and others, which gives outsiders — including the U.N. World Food Program — much greater access to the country.

From the New York Times:

The ship’s visit and the North Korean agreement to invite an additional 50 international relief experts from the World Food Program, as well as a consortium of U.S. relief agencies, followed recent progress in six-nation talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons programs.

For years, North Korea has guarded its people from contact with outside aid workers. The WFP, the largest international aid group operating in North Korea, currently has only 10 international personnel based in North Korea.

After sailing for several weeks from the U.S. west coast, the American-flagged M/V Baltimore arrived in Nampo, the North’s main port near Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Sunday evening.

On Monday, it began unloading half of its cargo of 37,000 tons of U.S.-grown wheat, Risley said. The ship will discharge the other half of its cargo at Hungnam and Chongjin, ports on the North’s eastern coast.

The shipment is the first installment of 500,000 tons in promised U.S. aid that will be distributed by the WFP and U.S. aid groups, such as Mercy Corps.

Before the ship’s arrival, North Korea agreed on Friday to allow the WFP to deploy the largest number of international workers since it began operations there in 1996 amid a famine that eventually killed an estimated 2 million North Koreans.

Until now, the WFP has had access to only 50 of the North’s 200 counties, distributing its aid through nurseries, schools, hospitals and orphanages. Under the new agreement, the agency will have access to 128 counties, including the remote and traditionally deprived northeast region and some counties never before accessible to humanitarian agencies.

The wheat shipment arrived just days after North Korea delivered a long-delayed nuclear declaration.

Meanwhile, the North rejected a South Korean offer to ship 50,000 tons of corn, the Seoul government said on Monday.

From the Associated Press

Sunday’s wheat shipment will be enough for the WFP to expand its operations to feed more than 5 million people, up from 1.2 million people now getting international aid.

On the supply side, anticipation of this aid, plus Russian aid, and increased Chinese grain exports could be behind recent reports that grain prices are falling in North Korea’s markets

Read the full articles here:
Seoul offers corn aid to Pyongyang
Yonhap
6/30/2008

Food aid reaches North Korea
CNN
6/29/2008

U.S. Food Aid Arrives in North Korea
New York Times
Choe Sang-Hun
7/1/2008

UN: US food aid arrives in North Korea
Associated Press
Burt Herman
6/30/2008

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