DPR of Korea: UN agency appeals for fresh aid to feed train disaster victims

27 April 2004

Fresh from delivering the first humanitarian aid to hospital victims of last week’s railway disaster in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called for urgent extra donations to feed thousands of others left injured or homeless.

WFP has been at the forefront of this emergency operation and we intend to remain there for as long as we are needed," Regional Director for Asia Tony Banbury said, stressing the additional strain “this terrible tragedy” has put on the agency’s already severely underfunded battle to feed 6.5 million long-term drought victims in the DPRK.

On Sunday WFP delivered its first seven tons of high-energy biscuits, wheat and vegetable oil to Ryongchon near the Chinese border, where two train wagons of explosives for a construction site detonated at the station last Thursday, killing at least 161 people, injuring 1,300 more and destroying 1,850 homes.

Food was immediately distributed to 360 severely wounded, many of them children, receiving emergency treatment at the hospital. Remaining rations were provided to the estimated 7,000 people sheltering with friends or relatives and in undamaged public buildings.

WFP aims to supply at least 1,000 tons of food aid worth about $1 million to victims over the next 30 days and beyond, over and above its broader operations in the DPRK where it aims to muster 484,000 tons of food for 6.5 million people this year but for which it has so far received only $12 million of the requested $171 million.

Because of this, WFP cannot provide cereals to 600,000 of its core beneficiaries – children, pregnant and nursing women, and the elderly – a figure set to rise to 1 million by May. While the DPRK has produced more food recently, there is still not enough to feed its 23 million people. A 2002 survey showed 42 per cent of young children chronically malnourished, nine per cent acutely malnourished and 21 per cent underweight.


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