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US NGOs welcome nutritional assistance for needy North Koreans

North Korea, February 29, 2012

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Five aid agencies with a long track record of humanitarian work in North Korea support a proposed U.S. Government-funded nutritional assistance program for vulnerable people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The agencies – Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision, collectively known as the “US NGOs” – have been advocating for nutritional assistance based on observed need for more than one year.

In February 2011, the US NGOs conducted a food assessment in three North Korean provinces, and observed extensive food insecurity and malnutrition, especially among young children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and hospitalized patients. Following this assessment, the NGOs strongly recommended that the U.S. government fund a program carefully targeting the nutritional needs of these vulnerable groups. During a September 2011 trip to deliver flood relief to three additional provinces – said to comprise the nation’s breadbasket – the NGOs observed similar disturbing conditions.

The findings of the US NGOs have been corroborated by the independent assessments and reports of other organizations. The World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Community and the U.S. Government have all confirmed this chronic need for nutritional assistance.

The US NGOs welcome the U.S. government’s current consideration of how to meet these pressing needs. The NGOs await further details on a nutritional assistance program following upcoming discussions between the American and North Korean representatives. Any potential program should be based on humanitarian principles and target the most needy.

Each of the five US NGOs has more than a decade of experience working in the DPRK. In 2008, the five collaborated on a food security assessment, as well as a subsequent program that delivered 71,000 metric tons of US Government-funded food aid to 900,000 hungry North Koreans in Chagang and North Pyongan provinces.