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North Korea: UN Food Distribution To Resume


DPR Korea: UN Food Distribution To Resume Following Russian Aid Shipment

The United Nations emergency feeding agency will be able to resume cereal distribution to nearly 2 million hungry people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) following a major shipment of Russian aid, but has still only received little more that a quarter of the total aid sought for 2004.

“Not only are we are deeply grateful for this vital donation by the Russian Federation, but we are delighted that one of the world's key nations has joined our family of donors," said World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Richard Ragan.

Mr. Ragan added that the agency would now be able to resume distributions to nearly 2 million "core" beneficiaries, including large numbers of kindergarten and primary school children and pregnant and nursing women who have been struggling to get by without help in recent months.

WFP appealed for 484,000 tons of commodities to help feed 6.5 million of the most vulnerable people in the DPRK during 2004 but so far has received confirmed pledges amounting to just 125,000 tons.

A fall-off in donations since mid-2002 has forced WFP to halt crucial, supplemental rations to millions of designated recipients for long periods.

The downturn in food donations risks eroding precious gains in nutritional standards. A survey by the Government, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF) and UN World Food Programme (WFP) in late 2002 showed that four out of 10 children in the DPRK suffered from chronic malnutrition, or stunting, compared to six out of 10 in a 1998 assessment.

The country’s agriculture has been badly affected by floods and droughts over the past decade. Economic adjustments initiated in mid-2002 have aggravated disparities in access to basic foods between better-off rural populations and those in urban areas accounting for some two-thirds of the country's 23 million people.

While increased agricultural production in recent years has reduced the cereals deficit, and the need for external assistance, the food crisis is likely to persist owing to limited potential for higher output.

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