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U.N. Official Says North Korea Needs External Assistance To Ensure Food, Health Security

“The well-being of millions of people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) still depends on external assistance, a United Nations humanitarian official said [Friday], warning that without aid, their health and food security would be seriously compromised,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Desiree Jongsma, the U.N. resident coordinator in North Korea, “said that while timely imports of food and provisions of agricultural inputs have contributed to avoiding a food crisis this year, the majority of the population — some 16 million people — remain chronically food insecure,” the news service writes, adding, “Of those 16 million, 2.8 million need regular nutrition assistance” (3/15).

“According to a 2012 U.N. national nutrition survey, nearly 28 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition and four percent are acutely malnourished,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost notes. “North Korea’s health care services and supplies are unable to meet basic needs, its infrastructure including water and heating systems need repair as education facilities are also ‘rapidly deteriorating,’ Jongsma said,” the news agency writes (3/16). The U.N. team “said humanitarian aid should be neutral and impartial ‘and must not be contingent on political developments,'” according to the Associated Press/New York Times (3/15).