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Friday, February 6, 1998 Published at 11:54 GMT



World

US aid for 'starving' North Koreans
image: [ The US aid is to be targeted at children and the old ]
The US aid is to be targeted at children and the old

As a defecting North Korean diplomat tells of children starving to death in his country, the United States pledged 200,000 tonnes of food to ease the crisis.

Kim Dong Su, 38, who has defected to South Korea, was Third Secretary at the five-member North Korean mission to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.

Arriving in Seoul with his wife and eight-year-old son, he said: "I increasingly felt uncertain of the future of North Korea, where food shortages are getting worse and kids are starving to death."


[ image: North Korean agriculture has been devastated by floods and drought in recent years]
North Korean agriculture has been devastated by floods and drought in recent years
The US is responding to the continuing crisis in communist North Korea, by making its largest ever donation of aid to the country. Its latest gift follows a United Nations appeal for help for North Korea.

A State Department spokesman in Washington said the food would be distributed to those most in danger of malnutrition such as children and the elderly. The UN says it will double the number of monitors to ensure the food gets to these vulnerable groups.

North Korea has been hit by widespread famine after devastating floods in 1995 and 1996 and a drought in 1997, leading to a series of international food aid appeals.

FAO experts estimated last November that up to one million tonnes of food aid would be needed this year because of the small harvest and North Korea's limited resources to buy food.
 





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