Monday, October 19, 2009

Conference Told of N.Korea Abuse of Food Aid

The ninth International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees in Melbourne on Friday accused North Korea of grave abuses and discussed ways to improve the situation. The conference was organized jointly by the South Korean Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights and the Australian Committee for Human Rights in North Korea under the joint sponsorship of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, and the Chosun Ilbo.

One participant pointed out that international humanitarian aid to the North has not been properly distributed to the North Korean residents, children in particular. Joanna Hosaniak, the senior program officer for international cooperation for CANKHR, interviewed 40 North Korean children and juveniles and 10 adults in the South between 2001 and 2008 and heard that none of them had received rice sent by South Korea or the international community during this period. They said they had instead seen grain sacks marked "Republic of Korea," "UN," or "Red Cross" sold on the market.

They said food supplied by South Korea is given to the military on a priority basis and the rest sold to moneyed military officers or Party members in the market. Only a small amount of food is distributed to the general public at slightly lower than the market price.

Some 2.55 million tons of rice and 200,000 tons of corn were delivered to the North during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations.

None of the 50 said they had either received or seen meat or canned fish, which the UN had supplied to the North for children and pregnant women, between 2001 and 2007.

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