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WFP: N Korean Rations Plunge to Lowest Level in 3 Years

A young North Korean student waits in the dining hall of the Ongnyugwan, a popular noodle restaurant, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang

The World Food Program says North Korea’s food ration for August was only 250 grams per person per day, the lowest figure since 2011 and significantly below Pyongyang’s target of 573 grams.

The WFP report released Tuesday describes the food availability situation in the North as “severe.”

The U.N. food assistance agency indicates September's rations appear to be about the same level as the prior month.

The agency says the deteriorating food situation is mainly due to a dry spell this spring, when key producing regions experienced prolonged periods of below-average rainfall.

The WFP visited 133 households in 28 counties throughout North Korea this year for a regular review. The U.N. agency found that of the households interviewed, most did not consume an acceptable diet - both in terms of food quantity and quality.

The report warns “The evident cereal shortage in DPRK can significantly increase the risk of acute malnutrition, especially among vulnerable women and children.”

North Korea, which has frequent and often severe food shortages, suffered famines in the 1990s that are estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. Pyongyang has not responded to the latest WFP report.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.