President Trump's astonishing words about the people of North Korea

In his...

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 5:07 PM
Updated: Jun 14, 2018 5:07 PM

In his post-summit interview Tuesday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, President Donald Trump said something quite astonishing about how the citizens of North Korea view their supreme leader.

Referring to Kim Jong Un, Trump said: "His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor."

Going into the historic Singapore summit, it was quite well-known that President Trump eschews briefing notes and lectures from his aides. But to believe that the majority of North Koreans, many of whom are teetering on the edge of survival, are happy is nothing less than a gross exaggeration.

According to the latest UN humanitarian appeal, a staggering 41% of the population -- or an estimated 10.3 million people -- continue to suffer from under-nutrition.

So it is equally astonishing that in the joint statement both leaders signed there is no mention of alleviation of the suffering of vulnerable North Korean citizens.

The situation is so dire that hundreds of thousands of children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers don't have enough to eat on a daily basis. While aid agencies operating in North Korea need to be restrained in their reporting of the situation on the ground, eyewitness accounts from dissidents and others support evidence that many outside privileged circles have difficulty surviving.

The UN's World Food Program, which has some of the best access in the country, says that about one-quarter of children in nurseries it supports are stunted, meaning that they've received such poor nutrition in their first few months of life that their growth has been affected.

According to a spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, infant and maternal mortality rates are higher than global averages, and hospitals and health clinics lack basic medicines, and often don't have access to water, sanitation and heating.

While natural factors such as floods, drought and bitterly cold weather set people back, international sanctions have had the knock-on effect when it comes to the health and well-being of ordinary people, too. Earlier this year, an influenza outbreak was blamed on sanctions that prevent easy restocking of basic medicines.

Though the return of peace to the Korean Peninsula is a laudable and historic accomplishment, it will mean absolutely nothing to the millions struggling to fill their bellies every day. The Kim family's zeal to enrich itself and develop the country as a nuclear power has led to a neglect of the North Korean people.

"Humanitarian assistance is a vital lifeline for millions of ordinary people living in DPR Korea," said the UN Resident Coordinator Tapan Mishra. "However, funding has been rapidly declining every year."

So far, the burden of funding has fallen largely on a handful of countries: namely Switzerland, Russia, Canada, France and Liechtenstein. In my own experience working on humanitarian emergencies in such reclusive and dictatorial states such as Myanmar, I've found that donors are reluctant to stump up cash if there's a chance it will fall into the wrong hands.

Starved for cash, the UN and other agencies have been forced to roll back programs. A few months ago, the World Food Program was forced to cut off 190,000 children from emergency nutritional assistance.

Aid organizations hope the Singapore summit will open the door for emergency aid to flow more easily into the country. What needs to happen next is an across-the-board review of sanctions that limit the amount and type of humanitarian aid and medicines entering North Korea.

While much of the burden of paying for humanitarian programs has fallen on the international community -- the latest United Nations humanitarian appeal asks for $111 million to reach 6 million people in dire humanitarian need. The dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program should be designed in such a way as to divert money to social programs normally expected of the state.

After decades of neglect, it would be naive to believe the entire burden of care for the over 40% of the population in need can immediately fall upon the government. As the convening state of the Singapore agreement, the United States should call urgent talks with UN member states to at least fill the current multimillion-dollar funding gap for humanitarian needs for 2018. And as its wealthy neighbor, South Korea is well positioned to press for enhanced humanitarian access during future inter-Korean talks.

Of course, in return for the lifting of sanctions, international monitors will need to be allowed into the country -- to ensure the fair distribution of fuel, medicines and other imports to benefit the poor -- and visa and other restrictions on aid workers should be eliminated.

By entering into the North Korean talks, President Trump seeks to place an indelible signature on history. Even if he does not manage to achieve the elusive goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, his legacy will almost certainly be bolstered by helping to improve the lives of the North Korean people he so fervently speaks of.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320292

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22299271
Hinds20782424
Harrison18455317
Rankin13933282
Jackson13740249
Madison10276225
Lee10068176
Jones8475167
Forrest7845153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6524150
Lamar636688
Lafayette6315121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4842133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4610148
Marshall4576105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc426173
Monroe4163136
Union415977
Neshoba4066180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3374111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314771
Adams308586
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292468
Prentiss284461
Leake272474
Marion271480
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232469
Winston230382
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210759
Holmes190574
Stone188833
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135547
Greene131934
Lawrence131424
Montgomery128943
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126542
Carroll122330
Webster115132
Jefferson Davis108534
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79218
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549394

Reported Deaths: 11328
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810851571
Mobile42180832
Madison35733524
Tuscaloosa26186460
Shelby25638255
Montgomery25103615
Baldwin21921314
Lee16301176
Calhoun14725329
Morgan14650286
Etowah14192364
Marshall12465230
Houston10798289
Elmore10302214
Limestone10191157
St. Clair10166251
Cullman9975201
Lauderdale9621250
DeKalb8978190
Talladega8467184
Walker7351281
Autauga7244113
Jackson6993113
Blount6957139
Colbert6418140
Coffee5650128
Dale4931116
Russell455241
Chilton4476116
Franklin432082
Covington4283123
Tallapoosa4137155
Escambia402380
Chambers3731124
Dallas3609158
Clarke353361
Marion3264107
Pike314878
Lawrence3135100
Winston283672
Bibb268664
Geneva258782
Marengo250566
Pickens237062
Barbour234460
Hale227078
Butler225071
Fayette219763
Henry194844
Randolph187744
Cherokee187545
Monroe181041
Washington170639
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156157
Cleburne153744
Lamar147237
Lowndes142154
Wilcox126830
Bullock124642
Conecuh113830
Coosa112129
Perry108826
Sumter106032
Greene93734
Choctaw62125
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