In a shocker, the United Nations appears to be doing something right for a change. The United States has criticized the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) operations in North Korea:
In a Jan. 16 letter to UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert, Ambassador Mark Wallace of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. lays out what American digging has found so far: The UNDP's program in the Democratic People's Republic "has for years operated in blatant violation of U.N. rules, served as a steady and large source of hard currency and other resources for the DPRK government with minimal or no assurance that UNDP funds and resources are utilized for legitimate development activities." Mr. Wallace declined to speak with me, but Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission, said yesterday: "We have raised serious concerns with UNDP regarding their oversight of the programs in North Korea . . . We want to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used to fund illicit activities."
While the precise amount of hard currency supplied through UNDP isn't known, the documents suggest it has run at least to the tens of millions of dollars since 1998 and one source says it could be upward of $100 million. An internal 1999 audit notes a budget of $27.9 million for 29 projects. David Morrison, a UNDP spokesman, says "the overall size of the program" in North Korea has been reduced in recent years. While $22.2 million was budgeted for 2005-2006, the agency spent only $3.2 million last year and $2.1 million in 2005, he says. Programs fall into four areas: humanitarian assistance, public health, environment and agriculture, and the economy.
No improvements have been made in the program and the United Nations is shutting it down:
The UN Development Program, accused by Washington with possibly helping funnel hard cash to North Korea's leaders, has shut down its operations in the impoverished country.
"As of 1 March 2007, UNDP has no choice but to suspend its operations in DPRK (North Korea)," it said in a posting on its Internet site, adding it could not meet revamped conditions for its operations there.
The people of North Korea will not suffer from this, for surely they have never benefited from it. The billions in aid dollars sent to North Korea every year do nothing but enable "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il to maintain his brutal dictatorship. He uses the money to keep his army well fed and happy. Oh, and for his nuclear program. And the North Koreans continue to suffer. And according to this article, their suffering could get worse, if that's possible:
North Korea has toughened its line on people who try to flee across the border into China, a new report by a rights watchdog says.
Human Rights Watch says that even those who are trying to cross the border for the first time face years in prison.
It says repatriated escapees can spend up to five years in political prison camps and are beaten and starved.
The group says the North Korean government "persecutes its citizens for simply trying to survive".
Even if they make it to China, North Koreans are not safe. If they are discovered by Chinese authorities, they will be returned to North Korea. Melanie Kirkpatrick:
While Pyongyang bears ultimate responsibility for the abuse of its citizens, China is complicit. Its policy of tracking down and repatriating refugees amounts to a death sentence for many returnees. It's a crime to leave the workers' paradise, and North Koreans who are caught and deported are shipped off to internment camps or worse.
And now it will be worse. I guess the only relief the North Koreans will get is when Kim Jong-il finally dies. It is wrong to pray for another's death. But when the "Dear Leader" becomes the "Dead Leader", I will not mourn.
Read this book.