The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced Friday it would resume food aid to North Korea, a month after devastating floods ravaged crops and left over 200,000 people homeless in the hermit kingdom.
The WFP confirmed the move Friday but did not say when food aid would begin arriving to people in the totalitarian state. The agency will provide 400 grams of maize per day for each of the flood victims.
The late June/early July floods damaged 65,000 hectares (160,000 acres) of crops, left 212,000 homeless and killed 169 people with 400 more missing, North Korea confirmed. More than 8,600 houses and 1,400 schools, factories and healthcare facilities were also destroyed during the floods.
Providing aid to North Korea has been a politically sensitive subject in the past. Many countries, like the United States, have cut off aid for two reasons. First, some countries have begun making their aid contingent on the Communist state agreeing to irreversibly dismantle its nuclear program.
Second, widespread corruption in food aid distribution oftentimes sees the best supplies diverted from starving locals to the authoritarian state's one million man army.
However, some aid organizations are beginning to experience more access and see more transparency in aid distribution, making it feasible to agree to provide food.
"There's been a loosening up and more access to the country and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere," United Nations Children's Fund spokesman Patrick McCormick recently said at a UN conference in Geneva.
"Even before the flooding, the question of access to North Korea has eased for UNICEF's operations."
The UN estimates about one-third of the population, or over 7 million people, suffer from chronic malnutrition in the famine-riddled state. One in three children experience stunted growth from lack of nutrition.
by RTT Staff Writer
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