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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > December
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 24, 2003


North Korea -- U.S. Food Donation

The United States will donate an additional 60,000 metric tons of agricultural commodities to North Korea's people through the World Food Program's 2003 emergency feeding operation. This donation, combined with the 40,000 metric tons of food aid the U.S. provided earlier this year, brings our total contribution to the World Food Program's 2003 appeal for North Korea to 100,000 metric tons, or nearly 20 percent of the total appeal.

President Bush has repeatedly emphasized his concern for the plight of the North Korean people, who rely on the generosity of the international community's food aid programs to avoid hunger and starvation. We are committed to providing our fair share in response to the World Food Program's appeals on purely humanitarian grounds and without linkage to our concerns regarding North Korea's policies. U.S. decisions on food aid contributions are based on three criteria: demonstrated need, competing needs elsewhere, and donors' ability to access all vulnerable groups and monitor distribution.

We reached the decision to provide this additional aid after World Food Program Executive Director James Morris, in two recent letters, informed us that some four million of North Korea’s most vulnerable citizens have pressing needs that will not be met unless additional contributions are received to sustain his organization's feeding programs through the harsh winter months. According to the World Food Program, more than 70,000 North Korean children suffer from severe malnutrition and about 30% of pregnant and nursing women are malnourished. Mr. Morris's letter to the Secretary emphasized that the United States was uniquely positioned to help.

In his letter, Mr. Morris also noted some progress this year on the World Food Program's overall operating conditions in North Korea, including access to one more district, an increase in the average number of monitoring visits per month, and obtaining official and unofficial wage and price information, which is helpful in determining individuals' ability to obtain food from North Korean sources. Mr. Morris stressed that the concerns of the U.S. on monitoring and access are exactly the same as the World Food Program's. We again call on North Korea to adhere to the same standards of humanitarian access that apply to other recipients of international food assistance. We will work with the World Food Program and other donor countries to achieve needed improvements.

Funding for this donation will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development's PL-480 program. The mix of commodities for the donation will be determined soon in consultation with the World Food Program.

The United States will respond at a later time to the World Food Program's appeal for 2004.

 
2003/1294

Released on December 24, 2003

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