News

Voice of America 04/14/97

NORTH KOREA FOOD CRISIS

BYLINE=GIL BUTLER
DATELINE=BEIJING
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:   

INTRO:  A UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAM 
OFFICIAL IN PYONGYANG,  NORTH KOREA SAYS THERE 
MAY BE A DANGER OF STARVATION BY THE END OF  
THE YEAR, BUT THERE IS NOT YET WIDESPREAD FAMINE. 
VOA'S GIL BUTLER  IN BEIJING SPOKE BY TELEPHONE 
WITH BRIGITTA KARLGREN, HEAD OF THE  WORLD FOOD 
PROGRAM OFFICE IN NORTH KOREA AND HAS THIS REPORT. 

TEXT:  THE SIGNS HAVE BEEN OMINOUS.   THE WORLD
FOOD PROGRAM HAS PUT OUT AN URGENT CALL TO 
DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF FOOD IT WAS PREPARED TO 
SUPPLY NORTH KOREA BECAUSE OF THE WORSENING FOOD 
CRISIS.  THE U-N CHILDREN'S FUND -- UNICEF -- SAYS 
SERIOUS MALNUTRITION WAS  DISCOVERED IN THE 
CITY OF HUICHON.   A GROUP OF AMERICAN SENATORS
ALSO WARNED OF STARVATION AFTER A VISIT  TO 
NORTH KOREA. /// OPT ///  SENATOR TED STEVENS 
SAID THERE MUST BE AN ATTEMPT TO   MEET NORTH 
KOREA'S WORST PROBLEM --STARVATION OR, HE WARNED 
THERE  WILL BE A NORTH KOREAN MILITARY REACTION 
AS WHAT HE CALLED "THE LAST  GASP OF THE REGIME." 
/// END OPT /// 

BUT THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM'S BRIGITTA KARLGREN
SAYS  MALNUTRITION DOES NOT YET APPEAR WIDESPREAD
AMONG CHILDREN. 

                              /// KARLGREN ACT /// 

I WOULD NOT SAY THAT, NO.  THIS MUST BE A SPECIAL
CASE AND WE HAVE  BEEN IN THAT AREA.  THIS WAS IN 
HUICHON CITY WHERE THEY OBSERVED  THIS AND WE
DON'T KNOW IF THIS IS A SIGN OF MALNUTRITION OR IF 
OTHER  DISEASES INVOLVED.  BUT THE FACT IS, THERE
IS A SHORTAGE OF MEDICINE  AND IF THERE ARE NO 
MEDICINES TO CURE NORMAL DISEASES, CHILDREN-- 
OR  ANYBODY ELSE--- CANNOT ABSORB THE FOOD THEY 
ARE EATING.  BUT THE  FOOD CRISIS MIGHT BE 
CRUX OF THE PROBLEM.  WE ARE NOT SURE OF THAT. 

                          /// END ACT /// 

NORTH KOREA IS IN THE MOST DANGEROUS PERIOD 
OF TIME NOW, FOOD STORES  ARE RUNNING OUT AND 
THE NEXT HARVEST IS MONTHS AWAY.  EVEN AFTER  
THAT HARVEST THERE IS STILL EXPECTED TO BE A SERIOUS 
SHORTAGE IN  FOOD SUPPLIES.  IS STARVATION A REAL 
DANGER THEN? 

                              /// KARLGREN ACT /// 

IT IS A DANGER BY THE END OF THE YEAR, YES.  IF 
THERE IS A  COMBINATION OF OTHER INFECTIONS OR 
OTHER DISEASES, IT IS A SEVERE CRISIS, YES.  BUT ON 
PURE MALNUTRITION, I DON'T THINK WE HAVE A  
FAMINE WHERE PEOPLE ARE DYING RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. 

                                 /// END ACT /// 

CHINA HAS JUST ANNOUNCED IT WILL BE SENDING 
ANOTHER SHIPMENT OF  GRAIN TO NORTH KOREA --
70 THOUSAND METRIC TONS.  AND A REPORT IN
THE CURRENT ISSUE OF THE FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC 
REVIEW SAYS HUNGRY NORTH KOREANS HAVE BEEN 
GATHERING ALONG THE CHINESE BORDER  DESPERATELY 
BEGGING FOR FOOD OR SNEAKING ACROSS INTO CHINA AT 
NIGHT.  SOUTH KOREAN SOURCES ARE QUOTED AS SAYING 
CHINA IS ANTICIPATING A  MASSIVE INFLUX OF REFUGEES.  
(SIGNED) 

NEB/MGB/FC  

14-Apr-97 5:11 AM EDT (0911 UTC)
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