UN Humanitarian Chief Meets Meets Pyongyang’s Parliament Head

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 5:00 am (UTC-5)
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United Nations' humanitarian chief Valerie Amos met Thursday with the head of North Korea's parliament, as she nears the end of her five-day visit.

Kim Yong Nam greeted Amos and members of her delegation in an elaborately decorated greeting hall in the capital, Pyongyang.

Amos has been in North Korea since Monday to assess the country's chronic food shortages. Earlier Thursday, she traveled outside Pyongyang to get a first-hand look at conditions in the countryside.

The United Nations estimates that 6 million North Koreans are in urgent need of food aid. It says world governments have contributed less than 30 percent of funding needed to end the food crisis.

Earlier this month, Amos attributed the funding shortage to Western concerns that food aid will be diverted to the North Korean military and not reach those most in need. But she said 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.