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NGOs Welcome Announcement Of U.S., North Korean Nuclear Arms Agreement That Could Bring Food Aid To Nation

“The State Department’s announcement that North Korea would halt nuclear activities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid was welcomed by aid groups that have long struggled to raise money to feed hungry people under an unpopular regime,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. Marcus Prior, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Asia said the group is “encouraged” by the development but it “remain[s] concerned about the level of nutrition, especially for children in poorer areas,” according to the blog. More than 90 percent of U.S. food aid has been delivered through the WFP since 1996, with the remainder channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says, the blog notes.

In a statement released Wednesday, U.S.-based NGO MercyCorps said, “U.S. NGOs welcome the U.S. government’s current consideration of how to” address food security in North Korea, according to the blog. “Experts say that despite its continued reliance on foreign aid, the North Korean government has done little to address the country’s deep-rooted food security issues,” the blog writes, adding, “Almost two decades of chronic food shortages has left up to one-third of North Korea’s 24 million people stunted from malnutrition” (Kaiman, 3/1).