The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an emergency food supply operation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to assist some 3.5 million vulnerable children, mothers, and elderly persons, the agency said today.
Emilia Casella, a WFP spokesperson, told a news briefing in Geneva that the agency had participated in an assessment of food needs in the DPRK in March, which concluded that “a bitter winter, crop loss and a lack of financial resources meant that the country was unable to secure cereal supplies from abroad although it needed them to supplement the local production.”
“This left the DPRK highly vulnerable to food shortages,” Ms. Casella said. “The WFP therefore launched an emergency food operation valued at just over $200 million to reach 3.5 million of the most vulnerable children, mothers and elderly in the country’s most food-insecure areas.”
“Acute malnutrition had not reached crisis levels yet, but chronic malnutrition and poor diet was widespread in the DPRK, meaning that the situation could deteriorate with any significant reduction in food intake,” Ms. Casella said.
About a third of the children in the country were stunted, Ms. Casella said, and about a quarter of all pregnant women and nursing mothers were malnourished.
Marixie Mercado of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told the same briefing that the March assessment “underlined a context of chronic malnutrition.”
“The emergency efforts are being undertaken in order to stop that situation from becoming a context of acute malnutrition,” she said.