The Sunday News
BRUSSELS — The European Union said Monday it will restart food aid to North Korea after the country’s repressive communist regime agreed to an unprecedented monitoring system as it suffers through its worst food crisis in years.
The EU will send euro10 million ($14.5 million) in food aid to North Korea, after food production in the country hit a new low and an EU mission of experts confirmed a growing hunger crisis in northern and eastern provinces. An unusually cold winter and other severe weather conditions have diminished recent harvests in North Korea, while food aid from China, which has experienced droughts and floods recently, has also declined.
“The purpose of this aid package is to save the lives of at least 650,000 people who could otherwise die from lack of food,” Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.
The EU stopped humanitarian aid to North Korea in 2008, when it determined that it was no longer necessary. It has, however, continued to support long-term nutrition projects in the country, which has had chronic food problem for years.
Because of the repressive and closed-off nature of the North Korean regime, aid to the country has long been controversial. But following warnings from the United Nations and the World Food Program, EU experts traveled to North Korea in June to examine the situation and together with the World Food Program, which will manage the aid package, negotiated a strict monitoring system with national authorities.