News / Asia

UN: Millions of North Koreans Continue to Face Food Shortages

Photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (C) inspecting the Kangdong Weak-current Apparatus Factory (Jan 2010 File)
Photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (C) inspecting the Kangdong Weak-current Apparatus Factory (Jan 2010 File)

The United Nations is warning of continued food shortages in North Korea where about one-third of the population is not receiving adequate nutrition. The latest food production report from a pair of U.N. agencies shows food production has increased only marginally over the past year.

North Korea needs more than half a million tons of imported grain in the next year to feed itself. That is the conclusion of two U.N. agencies after their latest mission to the isolated and impoverished nation.

The World Food Program and the Food and Agricultural Organization warn most of North Korea's people will continue to face food shortages.

They say international aid is the only way to adequately feed the North's 24 million people, a third of whom are under-nourished.

"We are hoping that donors will change their mind and support our programs so that we can separate the humanitarian issues from the political issues," said Victoria Sekitoleko, the FAO's regional representative.

Outside assistance has been minimal in the past few years. Sanctions on Pyongyang, because of its nuclear programs, have hampered efforts to attract food and other needed aid.

The U.N. agencies' report says their representatives recently visited food warehouses in seven of the country's 10 provinces and discovered no cereal stocks. Low-quality maize was available for distribution last month from the summer harvest but it was contaminated and too wet due to inadequate drying facilities.

In recent years, millions of North Koreans have gone hungry, and in the mid-1990s, hundreds of thousands died in a famine.

The WFP and FAO say international aid is needed to help five million of the most vulnerable North Koreans - children, pregnant and nursing women and the elderly.

The head of the WFP's food security unit warns of a "severe negative impact" if the chronic food deficits are not effectively managed should there be a "small shock in the future."

That is a reference to the precarious state of the country's agricultural sector and the economy.

Serious flooding in recent years has played havoc with harvests. Production of staple foods such as rice for this year rose just three percent from the previous year.

The FAO and WFP are recommending, in addition to food aid, that the international community support North Korea's farm sector to improve the country's food security in the short and medium term.

South Korea recently made its first shipment of donated food to the North since 2007. But the 5,000 tons of rice and three million packets of instant noodles pale in comparison to the half million tons of food aid shipped annually to North Korea under the previous administration here, which promoted the so-called Sunshine policy of engagement with Pyongyang.

The current South Korean administration says large-scale aid cannot resume until Pyongyang takes steps to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs