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DPRK Humanitarian News Digest

Kim Jong-un: Starving for Power

August 25, 2014

In a commentary published by War on the Rocks, Patrick Cronin writes that, as the World Food Program is pulling back from a two-year plan to feed 2.4 million North Koreans due to a lack of funds, the international community is experiencing donor fatigue due to North Korea's unwillingness to spend funds on feeding its people and its nuclear tests.

"No matter who is responsible for it, the thought of starving children in North Korea is deeply disturbing," Cronin writes.  "Unfortunately, Kim Jong-un cynically allows the international community to subsidize his most vulnerable subjects so he can focus on nuclear weapons and luxury."

For the full article, click here.

U.S. Missionary in North Korea a "Silent Apostle of Peace"

August 24, 2014

A story published by Catholic News Service profiles Father Gerard Hammond, 81, who has made 51 trips to North Korea to bring humanitarian assistance and assist in treating tuberculosis. Hammond has lived in South Korea since 1960, and first traveled to the North in 1995.

During Pope Francis' August 14-18 visit to South Korea, he met with Father Hammond and thanked him for his work in the North.

For the full story, click here

UN Warns its Food Aid Program in North Korea at Risk

August 22, 2014

The World Food Program (WFP) may have to shut down its operations in North Korea by early next year unless it gets more funding from international donors this fall, the WFP's director for Asia has told the Associated Press.

Kenro Oshidari, the WFP regional director, said that the organization has already scaled back a planned two-year, $200 million food aid program to feed 2.4 million people in North Korea due to lack of funds. It would need about $50 million in new funding to implement a credible nutritional program aimed at preventing stunting in North Korean children.

The WFP and other foreign aid groups in North Korea have also faced problems with transferring money into the country this year due to sanctions against North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank. The AP reports that a prior arrangement with a Russian bank to transfer aid groups' funds into North Korea fell through earlier this year, and that aid groups have resorted to carrying money into the country by hand.

For the full story, click here.

Ministry of Unification Releases 2014 Inter-Korean Development Plans

August 19, 2014

The South Korean Ministry of Unification has released its 2014 Inter-Korean Development Program plans, the Daily NK reports. The plans include establishing a channel for consistent inter-Korean dialogue, solving the issue of separated families, and providing humanitarian aid to North Korean citizens. The plans also include efforts on infrastructure development in the North.

In a statement about the plan, a Ministry of Unification official said, “There is much significance in the fact that this proposal was a governmentwide effort; a total of 24 administrative bodies came together to formulate these ideas and strategies.” 

For the full story, click here

North Korea Rumored to Have Bought Land in Zimbabwe

August 15, 2014

NK News reports that, according to the Zimbabwean news site The Telescope News, North Korea is rumored to have purchased land in Zimbabwe for the purpose of growing rice.

“We have credible information about North Korea seeking land to grow rice,” an anonymous diplomatic source is quoted as saying, “in Mashonaland East or Mashonaland Central under highly mechanised irrigation equipment possibly obtained from China”.

For the full story, click here.

South Korea Offers $13.3 Million for Aid Projects in North

August 11, 2014

Agence France-Presse reports that the South Korean Unification Ministry has announced $13.3 million in funding for UN humanitarian projects in North Korea. The Unification Ministry announced a separate package last month.

Seven million dollars from the funding package would go to World Food Programme projects in the North, and $6.3 million to the World Health Organisation. Seoul has not previously given funds to WFP programs in North Korea since 2007.

For the full story, click here.

China Cracking Down on Christian Groups along North Korea Border

August 11, 2014

China is cracking down on Christian aid groups near its border with North Korea, Reuters reports. 

The Chinese government is reportedly investigating a Canadian couple that ran a coffee shop in Dandong, and a Korean-American man who ran a vocational school in the border town of Tumen. Reuters added that such organizations are often active in channeling food aid into North Korea, but that their was no evidence that either was involved in helping defectors escape from North Korea.

The report added that up to a third of the 3,000 South Korean missionaries working near China's border with North Korea have been forced out of the country, most by having their visas refused.

For the full story, click here.

Japan Open to Sending Aid to North Korea, Pending Abductee Probe

August 9, 2014

Japan may give food and medical aid to North Korea if Japanese abductees in North Korea are reported home, according to Arirang News. The aid would be distributed and monitored by one of the international organizations inside North Korea, the reported added.

For the full story, click here.

U.S. NGOs Ship Medical Supplies to North Korea

July 25, 2014

An American humanitarian group is sending $800,000 in medical supplies to North Korea, Yonhap News reports, citing a Voice of America report.

Americares, based in Connecticut, has sent medicine, sanitary goods, and other medical aid for distribution in six hospitals and clinics in Pyongyang, Pyongan Province, and North Hwanghae Province.

For the full story, click here.

North Korea Prepares for Summer Floods

July 18, 2014

Yonhap News reports that North Korea has begun preparations for "serious floods" this summer. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) societies has reported that the country's meteorological service is predicting heavy flooding. The IFRC also reported that a shipment of non-food items from the Iranian Red Crescent has been sent to the North.

For the full story, click here.

South Korea to Fund Humanitarian Projects in the North

July 15, 2014

South Korea has announced that it will provide state funding to humanitarian projects in the North for the first time in four years, AFP reports. The Unification Ministry said that it would provide 2.9 billion won in grants to NGOs assisting North Korea in fields such as agriculture and healthcare. However, the Ministry will not directly provide aid to North Korea.

For the full story, click here.

North Korea Says Drought Persists

July 15, 2014

KCNA reports that a severe drought, which began in January, continues to affect several provinces in North Korea. The report states that North and South Hwanghae, South Hamgyong, Kangwon and North and South Pyongan provinces and Pyongyang City have received only 28-54 percent of average annual rainfall during the period.

For the full story, click here.

North Korean Farmers Under Pressure

July 15, 2014

The AP reports that North Korea's farmers face continuing pressure to increase their output. The report describes how policies implemented in the famine years of the 1990s have left a long-term mark on the North Korean countryside, and how food production has modestly increased as farms have shifted to organic production techniques.

For the full story, click here

Measles Spreading Rapidly in North Korea

July 10, 2014

The Chosun Ilbo reports that North Korea's outbreak of measles has continued to spread, reaching Pyongyang in June. The North Korean government had informed UNICEF of the outbreak, and announced that it was taking measures to contain it.

For the full story, click here.

Sanctions Obstruct Humanitarian Aid to North Korea: UN Coordinator

July 8, 2014

In an interview with Xinhua, Ghulam Isaczai, the UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative said that sanctions imposed against North Korea in 2013 have created new constraints for humanitarian aid programs.

"We are not able to use regular banking routes since the new round of sanctions, which has created multiple operational obstacles and adversely affected our functions, such as in-country procurement and effective program delivery," he said.

For the full story, click here.

Measles Outbreak Reported in North Pyongan Province

June 25, 2014

Radio Free Asia reports that a measles outbreak near the North Korean city of Sinuiju has left at least three children dead, marking the worst outbreak of the disease in North Korea since 2007. A source told RFA that North Korean authorities have imposed travel restrictions in the area and begun immunizing residents.

For the full story, click here.

Severe Drought Blights North Korea

June 23, 2014

Chosun Ilbo reports that North Korea is suffering a severe drought, and has mobilized soldiers to irrigate fields and paddies. The report says that KCNA has called the drought the "worst one since 2001."

For the full story, click here.

WFP Food Distribution in North Korea Hit Annual High in May

June 3, 2014

The World Food Programme reports that it has distributed 2,500 tons of food in North Korea in May, according to the Voice of America. The WFP country representative in Pyongyang, Dierk Stegen, said that food was given to 847,000 women and children who are considered as the most vulnerable in the country. Stegen added that the WFP program currently has less that 25% of its required funding.

For the full story, click here.

North Korea Faces Severe Shortfall In Foreign Food Aid

April 25, 2014 

The World Food Programme's activities in North Korea, face a funding crisis, the AP reports. The WFP’s two-year program targeting 2.4 million children and pregnant or nursing mothers has been scaled back to target 1.63 million, a target it still may not be able to meet. The program needs $8 million a month, but it has only $3 million to provide key food assistance until June. 

For the full story, click here.

S. Korea approves private humanitarian aid to N. Korea

April 24, 2014

Yonhap News reports that Medical Aid for Children—a private aid group in South Korea—was approved by the South Korean government to ship fever reducers, cold medicine and other medical supplies worth US$227,000 to North Korea.

For the full story, click here

Red Cross boosts livelihoods in DPRK with EU support

April 23, 2014

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced that it will launch a new project to improve livelihoods and resilience in Pukchang and Unsan districts of North Korea's South Pyongan Province. The project is being supported by supported by a European Commission grant of 500,000 Euros. 

 For the full story, click here.

Bird Flu Continues to Spread in N. Korea 

April 17, 2014

Voice of America reports that the World Organization for Animal Health released a report, based on data provided by North Korea, saying that an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu has occurred at a chicken factory in Pyongyang. North Korean state media previously reported on a separate epidemic in March, which led to the loss of 46,000 chickens.

For the full story, click here

UN food program inflated amount of oversight it gave to ensuring food really went to the starving in North Korea

April 11, 2014 

Fox News reports that an audit by the World Food Programme's Inspector General indicates that the WFP failed to conduct sufficient supervisions for food distributions to North Korea’s vulnerable people. The report stated that, among other issues, WFP staff could not always provide documentation for the North Korean government's rationale for cancelling inspection visits, such as road damage caused by storms. The  WFP claimed that the lack of funding contributed to the less effective monitoring, and that the geographical scope of WFP’s monitoring activities is still “commendable.” 

For the full story, click here.

S. Korea OKs private humanitarian aid to N. Korea

April 9, 2014

South Korean private group named Seomgim, or the Devotion, was approved to send basic medical supplies worth US$ 16,248, according to the Ministry of Unification.

For the full story, click here.

North to Receive Aid for Foot-and-Mouth Fight 

April 4, 2014

According to a Voice of America cited by the Daily NK, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is reviewing a proposal to provide US$400,000 in aid to North Korea in the fight against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. North Korea requested FAO assistance in late February, after a number of pigs were found to have been infected. North Korea has not yet responded to a South Korea request, made in March, to hold working-level talks on the issue.

For the full story, click here.

S. Korea urges North to repay loans

April 2, 2014

According to Yonhap News, South Korea’s state-run Import-Export bank called on North Korea to begin repaying the $724 million in food loans made between 2000 and 2007. North Korea failed to begin payment on these loans and corn and $80 million worth of raw materials from 2000 to 2007 to pay $7 million back. North Korea failed to repay South Korea for these loans when the first installment became due in 2012.

For the full story, click here.

UN Fund gives $6.5 million to UN agencies in N. Korea

March 31, 2014

Yonhap News reports that the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated US$6.5 million to its partner organizations in North Korea—the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund—to speed up relief efforts and sustain emergency aid operations

For the full story, click here

U.S. NGOs offer humanitarian aid to N. Korea

March 15, 2014

Yonhap News, citing Radio Free Asia, reports that the US NGO Wellspring has shipped a large truck to North Korea to support its groundwater development project. The report added that another US NGO, AmeriCares, also recently sent medicine, medical devices and food worth $370,000 million to North Korea. 

For the full story, click here.

S.Korean Charity to Send 200 Tons of Food Aid to N.Korea

March 12, 2014

The Chosun Ilbo reports that ChildFund Korea, a South Korean charity, has said it will ship 200 tons worth of wheat flour and bean flour for children and expectant mothers in North Korea. The shipment would represent South Korea’s largest private aid to North Korea under President Park. ChildFund Korea said that it will send its officials to North Korea in April to monitor the aid's distribution.

For the full story, click here.

WFP gives US$3.2 million in emergency aid to N. Korea

February 27, 2014

Yonhap News, citing Radio Free Asia, reports that the World Food Programme provided emergency food aid worth $3.2 million for children and pregnant women in North Korea earlier this month. Earlier, the WFP announced that it would close five out of seven UN factories producing nutritious biscuits in North Korea due to a shortage of funding. 

For the full story, click here.

Seoul to Allow Aid Shipments to N.Korea

February 24, 2014

The Chosun Ilbo reports that the South Korean government permitted two NGOs—the 1090 Peace and Unification Campaign and the Eugene Bell Foundation—to send $1 million in humanitarian aid, including powdered milk and anti-tuberculosis drugs, to North Korea. The shipments would bring the total value of private humanitarian sent from South Korea this year to $1.5 million.

For the full story, click here.

Russia Gives N. Korea Grain Supplies, Expects No Nuclear Test

February 7, 2014

Russia intends to provide humanitarian assistance worth 50 tons of grain to North Korea, according to RIA Novosti. Alexander Timonin, Russia’s Ambassador to the DPRK, told RIA that Russia had become one of the biggest donors to WFP operations in North Korea, giving $8 million over the 2012-2013 period.

For the full story, click here.

U.N. fund gives $15.1 million to N. Korea in 2013

February 4, 2014

The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $15.1 million to assist North Korea in 2013, the Korea Herald reports. The organization indicated that it supported emergency food assistance and medicine to people in flood-affected regions through the World Food Programme and other UN organizations.

For the full story, click here.

N. Korea to be 340,000 tons of grain short in 2014: report

February 2, 2014

The Korea Herald, citing a report from the Korea Rural Economic Institute, says that North Korea is expected to have a 340,000 ton grain shortfall in 2014. North Korea is expected to import 300,000 tons of grain on a commercial basis, and will need to rely on international aid for the remaining 40,000 tons of grain, according to the report.

For the full story, click here.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Flood operation Final Report 

January 31, 2014

 A report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says that the DPRK Red Cross Society has carried out flood response and relief operations in North Hwanghae, South Pyongan and North Pyongan provinces, which suffered from flash flooding in July 2013.

For the full story, click here.

Compulsory Collection of Harvest for Military Supply - Farmers' Discontent Growing

January 29, 2014

 In November 2013, North Korean regime collected the fall rice harvest for the military from farmers, leaving less than the prescribed amount of food for farmers and causing discontent, according to Rimjingang. These collections have caused hardships for farmers, particularly in Ryanggang and North Hamkyung Provinces.

For the full story, click here.

N. Korean imports of Chinese grain up 5.9 pct last year

January 27, 2014

Yonhap News reports that, according to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, North Korea’s imports of Chinese grain increased 5.9 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, reaching nearly 300,000 tons of imported flour, rice, corn, and other grain products.

For the full story, click here.

Kim Jong-un's Starving Soldiers 

January 24, 2014

The majority of KPA soldiers now suffer from dire and chronic malnutrition despite Kim Jung-un’s military-first policy, Rimjingang reports. Most soldiers in the early years of their service are exposed to this severe atmosphere because they are not yet fully adapted to life in the military. However, at the same time, the commissioned officers are also suffering from malnutrition, and they are stealing food from citizens or poaching food from the lower ranking soldiers. 

For the full story, click here.

Seoul Allows Three Charity Groups to Support N.Korea

January 16, 2014

The South Korean government has approved a US$400,000 private aid package for young children in the North Korea, according to the Choson Ilbo. The article adds that the approval follows President Park Geun-Hye’s announcement in her New Year’s speech that she would increase humanitarian assistance to North Korea. 

For the full story, click here.

U.S. relief agency to give aid worth US$1 million to N. Korea

January 15, 2014

Yonhap News, citing Radio Free Asia, reports that a U.S. private relief agency, World Vision, intends to provide aid worth US$1 million to support North Korean children and other vulnerable people.

For the full story, click here.

Food markets still vital in North Korea

January 10, 2014

While the size of North Korean harvests have increased since 2011, private markets in North Korea have continued to expand, Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, writes in an opinion piece in the Asia Times.

For the full story, click here.

Rice for Pyongyang, Nothing for Provinces

January 10, 2014

The Daily NK reports that there North Korean authorities have distributed rice to Pyongyang, but that the provinces have not yet received rations this year, despite announcements on normalizing food distribution in 2014.

For the full story, click here.

WFP's food aid to N. Korea hits all-time low in 2013

January 7, 2014

Yonhap News, citing Radio Free Asia, reports that the World Food Programme delivered 38,000 tons of food aid to North Korea in 2013, the smallest amount sent to the country since the WFP began working there in 1996. The WFP only delivered 30% of its food aid target for the year due to declining contributions, the report added.

For the full story, click here.

Int'l Red Cross cuts 2014 budget for N. Korea aid

January 3, 2014

Yonhap News reports that the International Red Cross has earmarked $5.6 million to aid North Korea in 2014, a decrease of 15% of last year’s budget. The organization has allocated the money for disaster management and public health projects.

For the full story, click here.

2013 Humanitarian News Summary