North Korea In a State of Emergency

May 02 2011

North Korea In a State of Emergency

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After a very harsh winter that caused massive crop failure, people all over North Korea are starving to death.  This seems very familiar, in 1990 North Korea lost 1 million of their 25 million citizens to severe famine and now it is happening all over again.  Former President Jimmy Carter, after a recent visit to North Korea, accused the US and South Korea of human rights violations because of the lack of aid that we have given to the North. The US State Department responded with reminding everyone that it was North Korea who suspended US aid in 2009 after they refused to continue the six-party talks. The North expelled all humanitarian workers and required that the leave the food. The US has also been very wary of giving aid to North Korea because it is unlikely that the aid gets where it is supposed to.  For example, it is likely that most of the food aid goes to the military instead of the citizens who desperately need it.  The US wants it to be clear that no one but the North Korean government is to blame for the death of so many of it’s citizens.

It seems though that North Korea is starting to realize that it can’t do everything on it’s own anymore.  Although they are still not agreeing to any six-party talks, they have been discretely reaching out for aid from a few food aid agencies. Earlier this year it was reported that the food shortage was getting so bad that North Koreans were being forced to scavenge for wild grasses and herbs to feed themselves.

On April 29th the UN announced that they would launch an operation to feed 3.5 million people.  The plan is expected to cost just about 200 million dollars.  Activists in South Korea also sent over 10 balloons filled with DVD’s, leaflets, radios, and dollar bills to North Koreans. The North had threatened to respond with artillery fire, but it seems to have gone off without a problem. Although North Korea clearly has some major issues in it’s government, is it fair for the world to let millions of people starve? Thankfully we have started to give aid, but these people need help. But what can we do? How do we know it is going to the right people? The UN says that it has put measures in place that will ensure the aid gets to the right people. Hopefully that works and at least some people can benefit from the UN aid.

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