EU to Give Millions in Food Aid to North Korea

Posted July 4th, 2011 at 4:55 am (UTC-5)
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The European Commission says it will give more than $14.5 million of food aid to North Korea to help around 650,000 people at risk of starving.

The Commission said Monday the food will be delivered under a strict monitoring system to those most vulnerable to malnutrition in the northern and eastern provinces of the country.

Five European officials traveled to North Korea last month to assess the need for aid in the Stalinist country. A U.S. delegation headed by human rights envoy Robert King also visited the country in late May, but its findings are still being assessed.

International food aid to North Korea has been sharply curtailed following nuclear weapons and missile tests by Pyongyang. The U.N. food agency says 6 million people, or about a quarter of North Korea's population, are now in urgent need of food aid.

However, South Korean officials say they believe the North is exaggerating its needs. Some officials say they believe Pyongyang wants to stockpile supplies for a celebration next year marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder and long-time leader, Kim Il-Sung.

The United States is seeking assurances from the North that any food aid will not be diverted to the military or ruling party supporters.

The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union.