Evangelical relief-and-development organizations are telling the U.S. government to stop entangling geopolitical differences with famine relief to North Korea.
"What a wonderful message to the world it would be for the U.S. to feed its enemy," says Serge Duss, president of the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations in Washington, D.C.
After hailstorms, two years of severe flooding, and decades of ill-advised agricultural policies, North Korea has only half the food necessary to feed its citizens (CT, Nov. 11, 1996, p. 96). Between 8 million and 9 million people are at risk, according to the U.S. State Department.
The Clinton administration announced February 17 that the government would send $10 million in aid to North Korea after being asked by the United Nations for $41 million in assistance.
"That's like giving a pretzel to a hungry person," says Duss. "It's just not going to cut it."
Duss says the United States typically gives one-third of the aid to countries facing major food crises, including enemy nations. For example, the United States provided aid to Angola during its civil war, to Sudan during its support of Iraq in the Gulf War, and to Iran after its 1990 earthquake.1