Date: Thu, 2 Oct 97 09:10:12 CDT
From: Arm The Spirit <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Campaign To Stop The Famine In North Korea
Wide-Scale Starvation Is An Urgent Threat But May Still Be Averted
Food rations in north Korea are at near-starvation levels following 2 years of devastating floods. The government provides 100 grams per person daily (half a bowl of rice), which is 1/6 the ration normally distributed to refugees in other crises. Even at these minimal levels, north Korea is expected to exhaust its food supplies by this summer and has made an urgent appeal to the international community for immediate food aid.
International relief agencies and other recent visitors to north Korea, such as U.S. Representative Tony Hall, report increasingly widespread and obvious pre-famine indicators: families eating grass, weeds, and bark; orphans whose growth has been stunted by hunger and diarrhea; and children going bald for lack of nutrition. Food supplies have already stopped to many nurseries and kindergartens, where many small children and babies are dying of malnutrition. The most severe threat of mass starvation is believed to exist in the northern and northeastern sections of the country, where relief workers have been granted access in March. Officials from the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) have just dispatched an assessment team to survey these areas and expect to release a report on conditions there in the coming weeks.
If real starvation grips north Korea this year, as virtually all international relief agencies and food experts now predict, those most at risk will be the 2.6 million children under the age of six, the elderly, hospital patients, and pregnant and nursing mothers.
How The Threat Of North Korean Famine Compares With Humanitarian Crises In Other Countries
The tragic Ethiopian famine of 1985, during which about one million people died, was the result of a 35% food deficit. The impending famine in north Korea may be several times worse, with millions of people currently facing starvation and a 55% food deficit.
Because north Korea uses a nationwide public distribution system, steadily diminishing rations means that nearly the entire population has been weakened by slow starvation and all the food could run out at the same time.
Contributions for food relief to north Korea are so low that the UN-WFP distributes more food in a week in the Rwanda/Zaire region than it has distributed in two years in north Korea.
The Crisis In North Korea Could Be Solved Through Increasing Humanitarian Food Aid From Donor Governments
Although the U.S. recently committed to contributing $25 million, this amount falls far short of the proportionate share that the U.S. has donated in other severe hunger-crisis situations. The WFP has reported that 1.3 million metric tons of food must be shipped to north Korea to prevent famine. The $25 million committed by the U.S. would purchase less than 6% of that total need, compared to the 30% of total need that the U.S. has historically donated in cases where famine has threatened lives abroad.
For more information on how you can help, contact:
Campaign to Stop Famine in North Korea
2430 West Third St. 2nd floor
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Tel: (213) 389-6664
Fax: (213) 389-6665