Funding, Restrictions Keep WFP From Reaching Millions Of Hungry North Koreans

The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) said Wednesday a “lack of international funding and new restrictions by North Korea on its staff and where it can operate has left it unable to reach millions of hungry women and children in the impoverished country,” AP/Taiwan News reports. According to the WFP, it has received 15 percent of the $504 million it needs to feed 6.2 million North Koreans (Sanderson, 7/1). The agency has had to reduce its goal of reaching all 6.2 million, and is now targeting 2.27 million people, Torben Due, the WPF’s country representative in North Korea.

“For adults, it doesn’t mean a lot if you live for a few months on a diet of cereals and vegetables, but for children, it is critical,” Due said, adding that anecdotally there appears to be “an increase in the number of children being admitted to hospitals with severe malnutrition,” via AFP/ He said the country’s chronic food shortages have created a negative cycle in which malnourished children grow up stunted with weak immune systems, and, in turn, give birth to less-than-healthy babies.

According to SAPA/BusinessDay, the government told the WFP to “scale back its operations and get rid of its Korean-speaking staff, which reduced the number of workers to 16 last month from the 59 agreed upon last year” (7/1).  According to Due, government leaders ordered the scale back without giving clear reasons why.

“A long-running international standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programmes escalated on May 25 when Pyongyang carried out its second nuclear test, followed by further missile launches, which resulted in new U.N. sanctions,” writes APF/ “We have not really received any contributions after the nuclear test was carried out,” Due said (Martin, 7/1).

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