Is Canada quietly feeding North Koreans? by Erich Weingartner

Without much fanfare, several countries have made modest donations to the WFP for food distribution in the DPRK. Surprisingly, one of these is Canada. Readers may remember that in response to a request by CanKor, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) last May indicated that “Canada has not made any further commitments to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance beyond those made between 2007 and 2009 through the World Food Programme.” (See: Will Canada Provide Humanitarian Aid to the DPRK?)

It turns out that isn’t quite accurate. The DPRK “Project Profile” on CIDA’s own website, dated 17 February 2011, indicates that Canada pledged $2,500,000 for food aid to the DPRK via the WFP. (See: Project profile for Food Assistance in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – WFP 2011) It also states that the grant is for 2011-2013.

Meanwhile, the WFP website indicates that Canada contributed $2,502,503 for the WFP’s current emergency operation in DPRK, designed to target the 3.5 million people most at risk of serious damage to their health as a result of the current food shortages. (See: WFP Operations page for DPRK)

Our request for clarification to CIDA has remained unanswered for the past two weeks. Meanwhile, Abdurrahim Siddiqui, the Deputy-Country Director for WFP Pyongyang offered this clarification in an email message to CanKor: Read the rest of this entry »

The European Commission will give emergency food aid to North Korea

[The European Union (EU) has taken the plunge. Will others follow? In the following Press Release by the European Commission (EC) dated Brussels, 04 July 2011, Kristalina Georgieva, EU commissioner for international co-operation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, outlines the terms of a decision to supply $14.5 million in food aid to the World Food Programme (WFP). Special monitoring conditions have been negotiated, with priority given to feeding children on brink of starvation, mothers, hospital patients and elderly. –CanKor.]

A North Korean child (photo by EU)

The European Commission will provide emergency food aid to more than half a million people at risk of dying from serious malnutrition in North Korea, amid growing fears of a worsening hunger crisis.

The terms for delivering the food assistance are unprecedented, with strict monitoring procedures in place.

The objective of the €10 million aid package is to lift around 650,000 people, mainly in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country, out of the hunger zone during the most difficult period of the worst year for food production in recent times. The next main cereal harvest is due in October.

Food assistance will reach children under five who have already been hospitalised with severe acute malnutrition. Children in residential care will also be fed, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, hospital patients and the elderly. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Mr Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament

[The European Union (EU) is still deliberating over the results of a field visit to North Korea by a team of the European Union Humanitarian Aid department aimed at assessing the country’s food shortages. No results have been published, and a decision regarding food aid is yet to be made. Furthermore, last month marked the 10th anniversary of the European Commission’s (the EU’s executive body) relations with North Korea. Coinciding with these two benchmarks, Javier Delgado Rivera of NKNews.org interviewed Mr. Christian Ehler, a German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Korean Peninsula. –CanKor.]

Christian Ehler (photo: NKNews.org)

How would you best describe today’s EU ties with the North Korea?

The European relations with North Korea could be better portrayed by its intermittent character. Although 25 EU member states maintain bilateral relations with Pyongyang, and the EU is represented by its ambassador in Seoul, diplomatic relations remain difficult.

The at times unsystematic engagement of Brussels with North Korea depends heavily on the developments of North Korea’s nuclear programme. On top of this, there are a number of regional security concerns that the EU has to watch carefully and react accordingly to.

Such hurdles have not put us off though. Over the years, a multi-tiered dialogue with the North Korean regime has been pursued and, even if characterized by up and downs, has been successfully held. It is worth noting that any kind of exchange with Pyongyang has to be carried out under peculiar terms. North Korea’s political system differs so much from ours that certain adjustments have to be necessarily made if we really aim at cutting short the country’s isolation. Read the rest of this entry »

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