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UN - 6.5 Million Hungry People In DPR Of Korea

UN Needs $202 Million To Feed 6.5 Million Hungry People In DPR Of Korea

With millions of children, women and elderly in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) barely living at subsistence level, the United Nations World Food Programme (<"http://www.wfp.org">WFP) said today it needed $202 million for 2005 to feed the 6.5 million most desperately hungry, over a quarter of the total population.

“The DPRK still faces severe food shortages as it seeks to diversify its economy. WFP Country Director Richard Ragan said. “Our goal is to ease the shock to the most vulnerable as they make this transition.

“Millions of children, women and elderly people are barely subsisting because they lack both the quantity and quality of nourishment they deserve,” he added. The DPRK has been hit by a decade of floods, droughts and economic hardship.

While domestic cereals production is forecast to rise by 2.4 per cent, to 4.24 million tons in the 2004-05 marketing year that runs from November to October, it will remain well below the minimum requirement of 5.13 million tons, according to a recent assessment by WFP and its sister UN agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (<"http://www.fao.org">FAO).

Two-thirds of the 23.7 million population remain dependent on the government-run public distribution system (PDS), which provides its mostly urban recipients with subsidized rations. These have recently been cut to 250 grams of staples per day, enough to meet only half their calorie needs.

The largest group to be assisted with rations are 2.7 million children in nurseries, kindergartens, primary schools and orphanages. The food basket includes cereals, pulses and vegetable oil, as well as vitamin- and mineral-enriched blends, biscuits and noodles. Children in hospital are to be similarly supported.

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