DPR Korea: UN plans major food relief programme to help millions in need

2 September 2008

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is launching a major relief campaign to help more than 6 million people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is experiencing its worst food crisis in a decade.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it is launching a major relief campaign to help more than 6 million people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which is experiencing its worst food crisis in a decade.

Nearly $8 million will be needed every week to meet emergency food needs in the DPRK, according to WFP, which said it would formally approve the new operation in the days ahead.

In total, WFP expects it will have to spend around $500 million to fight off widespread hunger in the Asian country, where a combination of successive poor harvests, soaring food prices, reduced imports and the effect of flooding last year have an estimated 6.2 million people in need.

“Right now, millions of North Koreans do not have enough to eat,” said Tony Banbury, WFP’s regional director for Asia, at a press conference in Beijing. “It is very important that donors come forward now and support this critical operation.”

The agency plans to deploy an additional 59 staff across the country to support the newly expanded operation.

Today’s announcement follows an assessment mission by staff with WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in June, which found that more than three quarters of all households in the country had reduced their food intake and at least half were eating only two meals a day.

WFP said the operation would extend to previously inaccessible areas of the DPRK and would also target the most vulnerable, including the elderly and the young. About half the beneficiaries will be in the remote northeast, which has been hit hardest by an industrial recession.

The agency’s country director Jean-Pierre de Margerie said it had received “encouraging cooperation” from the Government in Pyongyang concerning its relief efforts.

“All in all, operations are progressing well and we have been able to expand assistance to reach over 4 million hungry and vulnerable North Koreans,” he said.

 

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