More food aid needed to forestall humanitarian crisis in DPR of Korea - UN agency
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that an additional 150,000 tons of food aid was needed for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in order to prevent a severe shortage later in the year.
The WFP's appeal follows an announcement last Friday that the United States contributed an additional 100,000 tons of wheat, rice and dairy products towards the UN agency's 2002 assistance programme in the DPRK, which seeks to feed 6.4 million of the country's most vulnerable children, women and the elderly.
WFP said the US contribution, which will begin arriving by the end of July, would help prevent a "rupturing" of the aid pipeline to the DPRK next month but cautioned that the country faced a "major humanitarian crisis" unless more aid was forthcoming.
"This US commitment is as crucial as it is timely, because it means distributions to more than 1.7 million beneficiaries who we were obliged to stop feeding last month for lack of contributions can resume again soon," said David Morton, WFP Representative in the country.
Pyongyang Government statistics show that 45 per cent of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished, while 4 million school-aged children are also severely underfed, impairing their capacity to grow both physically and mentally. The nutritional status of some 480,000 pregnant and nursing women is poor, and the rate of maternal mortality is rising.
"The needs of the people of the DPRK remain considerable," Mr. Morton said. "We sincerely hope that other donors who have been generous in the past, but not yet given this year, will step forward soon, because once a pledge is made, it takes two to four months to get that food into the stomach of a hungry child."