Going hungry

THE World Food Programme has sounded a familiar warning about the situation in North Korea, where the UN agency will be able to feed just 100,000 out of an estimated 6.5 million hungry mouths. Lack of donations from the usual food givers, the United States, Australia and the European Union, has caused a ‘pipeline break’ in supplies to this impoverished Stalinist state.

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Published: Tue 10 Feb 2004, 12:23 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:14 AM

While the WFP’s concern is understandable and its efforts to reduce chronic malnutrition in North Korea are admirable, the blame for the unfolding tragedy lies squarely with the regime of Kim Jong-il - for two solid reasons. For one, the well being of a nation’s population is ultimately the responsibility of the government, regardless of whether it’s a democracy or a dictatorship. It is not the automatic moral duty of the world’s rich nations to take care of the citizens of poor countries, especially those living in totalitarian states. For another reason, the government of North Korea seems to have plenty of money to spare for its nuclear and satellite development programmes yet is perennially strapped for cash when it comes to feeding its own citizens. It is a fair assumption that had the government’s expenditure not been so scandalously lopsided in favour of defence, one-quarter of the North Korean population would not have been dependent on WFP food deliveries today for survival. If anything, the present state of affairs reflects an indifference to the needs of the very masses from whom the reclusive state’s communist rulers claim to derive their legitimacy.

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