UN World Food Program launches DPRK emergency relief – solicits support

The UN World Food Program has announced a new emergency relief measure in the DPRK.  The WFP claims to need more than 1.5 million tons food for North Korea and $503 million to maintain adequate operations until November 2009—$60 million of it now.  Below are highlights from the UNWFP and various media outlets:

According to the WFP:

The immediate negative impact on food security was confirmed by a comprehensive “Rapid Food Security Assessment” conducted jointly by WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in June. More than three quarters of all households had reduced their food intake, over half were eating only two meals per day and more malnourished and ill children were being admitted to hospitals and institutions.

“All in all, operations are progressing well and we have been able to expand assistance to reach over 4 million hungry and vulnerable North Koreans.”

WFP is deploying 59 international staff members to support the new programme. More than 20 of them will be working in six newly-established field offices to monitor and track food distributions – and for the first time ever, the international staff will include Korean-speakers, in accordance with the new agreement between WFP and the DPRK government.

WFP monitors have already visited county warehouses and beneficiary institutions in 125 of the 131 targeted counties and have accounted for all WFP food assistance distributed so far.

As an aside, “two meals a day” is a scientifically meaningless measure.  At the bare minimum, it would be far more helpful to detail the number of calories the mean/median North Korean consumes per day along with the total necessary calories needed to maintain health.

The Christian Science Monitor printed a few more details: 

Citizens eligible for food rations have seen their allocation cut from 500 grams a day to 150 grams, Banbury reported. Few North Koreans eat meat except on major national holidays when the government distributes it, he added.

What are the roles of South Korea, USA and China in all this?

South Korea
South Korea, which provided more than half the North’s food aid last year, has suspended shipments of food and fertiliser this year in a tougher policy towards Pyongyang from new President Lee Myung-bak.(Financial Times)

On Tuesday, [South Korean] Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon said Seoul is still considering the appeal and will make a decision based on its assessment of the North’s food situation while monitoring “various situations.” He did not elaborate.(AP via the Herald Tribue)

The US promised in May to donate 400,000 tonnes of food aid to North Korea through the WFP and a further 100,000 tonnes through private US organisations. That would nearly double the amount donated last year by China, which has in past said its relationship with Pyongyang was as close as “lips and teeth”. (Financial Times)

China is North Korea’s leading source of food and fuel aid. But difficulties in obtaining food export licenses from China have hampered the WFP’s efforts to procure food to be sent to North Korea as well as to Myanmar, the agency said, adding it was in talks with Chinese officials. It has asked the Chinese government to allow the agency to buy 50,000 tons of cereals and export it to their operations in either country. (AP via the Herald Tribune)


Comments are closed.