The United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have reached an understanding on a program for the resumption of U.S. food assistance for the North Korean people. International organizations and experts have expressed concern about a severe food shortage in North Korea. Authorities there have explained to U.S. authorities that North Korea faces a major shortfall in food supplies. In response, the United States has pledged significant assistance.
The two sides have agreed on terms for a substantial improvement in monitoring and access in order to allow for confirmation of receipt by the intended recipients. The U.S. intends to provide the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, with up to five-hundred-thousand metric tons in food commodities over the course of a twelve-month program beginning in June 2008. The World Food Program will distribute approximately four-hundred-thousand tons and U.S. non-governmental organizations will distribute approximately one-hundred-thousand tons.
The U.S. and DPRK have agreed on a framework to allow World Food Program and non-governmental organization staff broad geographic access to populations in need and the ability to effectively monitor the distribution of U.S. commodities. The food aid will come from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust. The exact commodity mix and delivery schedules will be based on the outcome of a joint assessment to begin in the coming weeks.
An experts’ meeting will be convened in Pyongyang in the near future to work out operational matters and commence detailed implementation of the program. Premised on a successful outcome of those discussions, the U.S. will deliver the first shipment in June, in light of the urgency of North Korea’s food shortfall. This program has developed through close coordination and extensive consultation with experts in the South Korean government.
U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Alexander Vershbow said, "both the United States and South Korea are worried about the dire food situation in the DPRK. "We are prepared to provide humanitarian aid, as long as we know that the people in need are actually getting the food."