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UN to Extend Aid Project in N. Korea

A photo provided by the Light Korean Presbyterian Church on March 5, 2015 shows Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim at an agricultural project in North Korea, with the faces of North Korean workers digitally blocked by the church to hide their identities.

The U.N. World Food Program plans to extend its humanitarian aid efforts in North Korea through the end of this year.

In a telephone interview with VOA's Korean service, WFP spokesperson Frances Kennedy said its existing program in the North will be extended for six more months.

“WFP’s current program in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, originally slated to end in June, is in the process of being extended until the end of 2015,” said Kennedy, referring to the North’s official name. The organization is expected to confirm the plan in the coming weeks.

“It is worth noting, however, that the program is currently only 55 percent resourced,” Kennedy explained in an email response.

The organization’s target funding for North Korea was $137 million but it only collected around $75 million as of early June.

Kennedy said additional funding from donors is urgently required to sustain food distributions through this December and that the program’s reach may be smaller than originally hoped.

“Although there have been some positive trends in recent years, hunger is still very prevalent in DPRK,” Kennedy stressed.

According to U.N. figures, up to 70 percent of the country remains food insecure and 28 percent of children under the age of five are stunted.

The WFP plans to address the nutrition gap among children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, many of whom suffer from chronic malnutrition.

The U.N agency provides food assistance to eight provinces throughout the communist country.

North Korea suffered a massive famine in the 1990's that is believed to have killed about one million people.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report