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North Korean Children Suffer a State of Dire Food Security

North Korean Children Suffer a State of Dire Food Security

North Koreans work in field affected by scarce rainfall. Photo credit:Ng Han Guan/AP

To protect its national security, North Korea presents a strong visage to the world, but it is proving increasingly unable to provide food security for its people.  North Korea’s children bear the brunt of its declining food security as, according to the Guardian, “Millions of North Korean children [nearly one-third under age 5] are not getting the food, medicine or healthcare they need to develop physically or mentally, leaving many stunted and malnourished.”

By prioritizing funds for its nuclear and defense programs, North Korea has a shortfall in funding for food supplies.  This year’s drought conditions add new difficulties for North Korea’s farmers to grow food for the country, while UN appeals for food aid ($198 million for 2012) cannot be adequately fulfilled.

Only one-third of North Korea’s population lives without government rations, leaving 16 million in need of government assistance.  For children who grow up on these rations which “usually consist of barley, maize or rice, at best…many children are growing up without eating any protein.”

The Guardian quotes Jerome Sauvage, the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator for North Korea on the effect that food insecurity and malnourishment is having on North Korean children:

“They have shown us orphanages, kindergartens and hospitals, and I’ve been able myself to see children who I was told were nine years old but had physical signs that they were much older than nine, probably 13 or 14 years old, and were evidently undernourished.”

Upon reading the Guardian article more closely, consider: Should other countries provide food aid to North Korea, unconditionally, for immediate relief?  Or should countries continue to consider restricting aid delivery until North Korea alters the course of its security policies?