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Mar 2 2012 1:30PM
How the world helped North Korea feed its people
To keep peace: Since 1995 the world has donated more than 12 million tonnes of food to help the regime alleviate chronic hunger. Picture: Getty Images
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The US decision this week to give North Korea 240,000 tonnes of food in return for a partial nuclear freeze is the latest development in a 17-year-long international aid effort.

Since 1995 the world has donated more than 12 million tonnes of food to help the regime alleviate chronic hunger, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service in June last year.

China, South Korea, the United States and Japan contributed more than 80 percent of the total, with Beijing the biggest single donor.

The United States has provided 2.26 million tonnes of food worth $708 million since 1995, the bulk of it through the UN's World Food Programme (WFP).

Here are some of the significant dates in the food aid effort:

Early 1994

- North Korea launches first appeal for international food aid. Famine which begins in the mid-1990s kills hundreds of thousands.


- WFP launches internationally funded aid effort which still continues.


- South Korea's annual shipments to the North, of 400,000 tonnes of rice and 300,000 tonnes of fertiliser, are halted as relations worsen. Seoul's subsequent offers of smaller amounts of food aid are ignored.

- In May the US pledges 500,000 tonnes of rice to be distributed mainly through the WFP. Shipments stop the following year amid questions about the transparency of distribution and US aid experts are told to leave. Some 170,000 tonnes are delivered before the programme ends.

- In July the WFP says hunger in the North is at its worst since the 1990s famine, with five to six million people needing immediate help.


- February/March: A WFP assessment, the most in-depth it has mounted in the North, indicates that more than six million people, a quarter of the population will need food aid in 2011.

- March: South Korea's foreign minister says the North is stepping up international appeals for food aid because of its "dire economic situation".

- April: WFP launches an emergency operation to reach 3.5 million of the most vulnerable -- children, women and the elderly -- with strict monitoring of deliveries.

- July: The European Union says it will deliver 10 million euros in emergency aid to feed 650,000 people facing starvation.

- August: Russia says it is sending up to 50,000 tonnes of wheat to the North.


- February 29: The United States and North Korea announce a deal under which Pyongyang will freeze uranium enrichment, along with nuclear and missile tests, in return for a large shipment of vegetable oil, pulses and ready-to-eat meals.

Washington says the 240,000 tonnes of food will go to young children and pregnant women, and that strict monitoring will prevent it being diverted to North Korea's armed forces.

The breakthrough comes after the youthful Kim Jong-Un took power in North Korea in December 2011, following the death of his father Kim Jong-Il. -Sapa-AFP

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