N.Korea Rejected Further UN Food Aid

Choson Ilbo

North Korea reportedly turned up its nose at any more food aid from the UN and asked the World Food Program early last month to shut its Pyongyang office. A South Korean official said the North last year also vowed to turn down any further humanitarian aid from international bodies, and Seoul was trying to work out what exactly Pyongyang wants.
There are said to be two reasons. One is that Seoul promised the North substantial food aid that allowed Pyongyang to cover its shortfall to some extent. It was initially estimated to be short 890,000 tons of food this year, but the gap has been narrowed after the South offered 500,000 tons and China 150,000 tons. It also appears North Korea’s domestic food production increased once the South provided 400,000 tons of fertilizer.

Pyongyang is also riled by attempts by the WFP, which was providing about 100,000 tons of aid, and other international bodies to monitor where the aid is going. The WFP continually tries to check whether food aid is being diverted to the military. Last year, when its shortage grew serious, Pyongyang cooperated with the monitoring efforts by the WFP, but now it says they are interference in its internal affairs.

Experts say the Stalinist country is trying to reduce aid from bodies that want to see where their aid is going and replace it with aid from South Korea and China, which stand accused of not doing enough to monitor distribution. “The international community is demanding that Seoul gives aid to the North through international bodies with sure monitoring systems,” says Kwon Tae-jin, a fellow of the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI). “If we cannot cooperate with the international community, the effectiveness of our aid could be halved.”

However, a South Korean official denied food aid from Seoul could be diverted to the military. Each time it sends 100,000 tons of aid to the North, Seoul says it verifies distribution in four areas including Pyongyang. “This year, we’ll conduct about 20 monitoring sessions,” a government official said.


Comments are closed.