Excerpts of Guardian opinion by Dr J E Hoare, Britain’s first diplomatic representative in North Korea:
When I was working in North Korea in 2001-2002, the WFP programme was one of the largest in the world. It was never enough, however, and WFP always had to prioritize: Pregnant mothers, children and the old.
There were other benefits as well. It gave many North Korean officials the valuable experience of working with an international organization, useful exposure for those who had little experience of the outside world.
WFP has always had to fight off those who are opposed to giving any food to North Korea. Various reasons have been put forward for not supplying aid, including the charges that food was being diverted or that funds spent on the military should be spent on feeding the population. There be truth in such charges but … the vulnerable remain. We know from nutritional surveys that lack of good food in early years means that many will be permanently affected.
We also know that many countries get their priorities wrong; children go hungry even in the richest nations. To penalize those who are already suffering and who can do nothing to influence the government would be unjust. The WFP should be helped to continue its North Korean program.