Status of US food aid deliveries to North Korea

Press Statement by Sean McCormack
December 30, 2008
US Department of State web site

Question:  Will you please provide an update on the deliveries of food aid to North Korea?

Answer:   To date, over 143,000 metric tons of U.S. food (wheat, corn, and soybeans) has been delivered to North Korea. Of that amount, the latest shipment of 25,000 metric tons of corn and soybeans arrived in North Korea on November 23 and has completed unloading for distribution by the U.S. NGOs. The latest shipment of food aid (totaling 21,000 metric tons), which was expected to arrive by the end of December, is now expected to arrive in the DPRK on January 2, due to recent rough seas.

The United States has not stopped food aid to North Korea. Under the terms of our agreement with the DPRK, there is to be no limit imposed on the Korean language capabilities of the World Food Program (WFP) and U.S. NGO staff implementing the food aid program. The lack of sufficient Korean speakers on the WFP program is one of the key issues in ongoing discussions. The issuance of visas for Korean-speaking monitors for the WFP program is another issue currently being discussed, along with other technical issues. A delegation that recently visited North Korea, identified problems in the implementation of the world food program portion of the food aid program. Those problems are not yet resolved.

Under the most recent agreement reached at the six party talks, the US has committed to sending 500,000 tons of food assistance to North Korea within the 12 months beginning in June 2008.  So far the US has shipped 143,000 tons. 

South Korean civil society is also contributing:

Two South Korean charities say they’ve shipped food and fuel to impoverished North Korean families suffering in the cold.

A shipment of food for babies and their mothers worth about $302,300 is to be distributed in Hoeryong by the Seoul-based Jungto Society, a Buddhist group, Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday.

Families in Hoeryong are particularly vulnerable because the town sits on the remote northeastern tip of North Korea and and receives less assistance from other regions, said Kim Ae-Kyung, a Jungto spokesman.

The shipment includes dried seaweed powder, flour, milk powder, sugar and salt for 2,500 mothers and 6,300 infants and children.

Another South Korean charity, Briquet Sharing Movement, said it has delivered 50,000 charcoal fuel briquets to North Korean border towns Kaesong and Kosong.

In all, the two towns have received 800,000 briquets from the charity this year, enough to help heat 3,200 homes, Yonhap reported.

(UPDATE) From the Korea Times:

[T]he “Easter Star” was en route to the reclusive country with 21,000 metric tons of corn and will soon arrive at the port of Nampo.

American NGOs, such as Mercy Corps, World Vision and Global Resource Service will distribute the aid in Jagang and North Pyeongan Provinces, the official added. The State Department originally expected the aid to reach the port by the end of this month.

It will be the sixth shipment of the 500,000 metric tons of promised food aid. In May, the U.S. agreed to resume the aid in June for 12 months. The United States given 143,000 metric tons of food assistance so far, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington last week.

The NGO official also said 4,940 metric tons of a corn-soya blend and corn oil will be separately shipped to North Korea in mid-January as the seventh shipment, and NGOs will distribute them in the same regions.

NGOs have been a regular channel for Washington to distribute its promised assistance. The World Food Program under the United Nations has also distributed food assistance on the U.S. government’s behalf.

The shipment will be the first aid package reaching North Korea after talks on dismantling the North Korean nuclear program came to an abrupt end without substantial agreement in early December.

In spite of the stalemate on the nuclear issue, McCormack said, “Our humanitarian program will continue.” U.S. attention is now shifting to stationing Korean-speaking staff working with the WFP and NGO programs at the point of distribution.

Read the full articles here:
Charities send food, fuel to North Korea
UPI News

US Corn Aid to Arrive in North Korea Jan. 3
Korea Times
Kim Se-jeong


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