UN Calls on World to Bring Humanitarian Aid to Starving North Koreans, Despite Sanctions

About 11 million people in the country are already considered malnourished.

North Korea food aid
North Korea is facing a brutal food shortage. (IAN TIMBERLAKE/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

The head of the United Nations World Food Program has called on the U.S. and other western powers to send food aid to starving North Korea and to, “put children’s lives before politics.”

In an interview with The Guardian, the World Food Programme’s executive director, David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, said “as we speak,” teams of experts were canvassing the North Korean countryside to provide potential aid donors with evidence of the scale of the crisis.

Due to a brutal heat wave and heavy flooding over the past year, North Korea is facing a deficit of 1.4 million tons of food production this year, including wheat, rice, potatoes and soybeans.

An estimated 11 million people – 40 percent of the population – are already undernourished, with one in five children stunted due to chronic malnutrition, according to The Guardian.

“This is a serious issue and children are going to be severely impacted if we do not do something by the time the lean season truly kicks in by June,” Beasley said. “Russia has responded and is sending in 50,000 metric tonnes [of wheat], China is doing something too. Western donors are still hoping that the [breaking] of the impasse will take place so that everyone can come in together.”

“The concerns have been about not helping the regime,”  Beasley added. “We make the case: don’t let innocent children suffer because of politics.”

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