north korea, the hermit kingdom is suffering from the inadequacy of food grains to feed its people. There are fears that young children and other vulnerable groups might face a shortage of food because of the drought. The Red Cross said the drought began in early spring and worsened last year. At the time, the food production had hit a new low. The net result is that many people will require urgent food assistance. Humanitarian aid from abroad could mitigate their sufferings.

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The Guardian quotes an official of Red Cross as saying, “We are particularly concerned about the impact that this early drought will have on children and adults who are already struggling to survive.” He points out that many children in North Korea suffer from malnutrition and the food crisis could make matters worse. There are also fears that the effect would be felt by pregnant and breastfeeding women, apart from the aged and those who have health problems.

Poor harvests compound North Korea’s food crisis. [Image source/TRT World YouTube video]
Poor harvests compound North Korea’s food crisis. [Image source/TRT World YouTube video]

Controversy over sending across aid

The Red Cross notes that food production in 2018 was 12 percent less than the previous year. It is extending financial support from its disaster relief emergency fund for the installation of water pumps. The government of South Korea would like to provide food assistance, however, Japan feels otherwise.

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It feels the priorities of North Korea offer more weight to the country’s nuclear weapon and missile development program rather than the welfare of its people. N. Korea had recently launched two projectiles that were in the category of short-range ballistic missiles. It was North Korea’s second test of weapons in less than a week, hence a matter of concern because it raises doubts on the country’s attitude towards denuclearization.

The Guardian adds that official sources in North Korea have confirmed that there was scanty rainfall for the first five months of the year.

Korean Central Television went on to confirm this while another media report added that crops were dying. An official of the disaster risk management group blamed the situation to climate change. He said, “For people who are living on the margins, these changes can be devastating.” In the words of David Beasley, of the United Nations World Food Program, “don’t let innocent children suffer because of politics.”

North Korea needs humanitarian assistance

According to Business Standard, the UN said that North Korea faced an acute shortage of food and needed humanitarian assistance.

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David Beasley, an official of the UN World Food Program met Kim Yeon-Chul, a minister of South Korea to discuss the issue and evolve a solution. In 2010, Seoul had dispatched food assistance of 5000 tonnes of rice to Pyongyang. Later, in 2017, the Seoul government did approve an aid package of nearly $8 million. However, it is held up because of the bottleneck in denuclearization talks.

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