UN Relief Chief to Visit North Korea

Posted October 5th, 2011 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations’ top humanitarian official says she will make her first visit to North Korea this month.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said in New York Tuesday she wants to raise awareness of the situation in North Korea, where the world body estimates that 6 million people are in urgent need of food aid.

She said she also wants to talk to North Korean officials about their long-term plans for meeting the nation’s food needs. She will be in the country from October 17 to 21.

World governments have contributed less than 30 percent of the amount the United Nations is seeking to avoid a food crisis in North Korea.

Amos said that is largely because of concerns that food aid will not reach those most in need. But she said that monitoring has improved in the past year, with the North allowing random visits and the use of Korean-speaking staff for the first time.

The United States and the European Union both sent teams to assess North Korea’s food needs earlier this year. The Europeans said they will send aid, but Washington still has not announced a decision.

Rajiv Shah, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development , has said the United States will not send food aid until it receives adequate guarantees that any aid will not be used to prop up the government.