Major food assistance programme planned for DPR Korea
Beijing, 2 September 2008 - WFP is launching a new emergency operation valued at approximately half a billion dollars to feed 6.2 million people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), including many in previously inaccessible areas of the country.
The new emergency operation is expected to be approved in the coming days.
“Right now millions of North Koreans do not have enough to eat. This new operation is designed to make sure they do,” said Tony Banbury, WFP Regional Director for Asia at a press conference today in Beijing, adding that WFP would need almost US$8 million per week to provide the level of food assistance required in the DPRK.
“It is very important that donors come forward now and support this critical operation.”
Worst hunger in a decade
WFP had previously warned that the DPRK was suffering its worst hunger levels since the late 1990s, due to heavy flooding in August 2007, lower harvests and drastically reduced food aid and imports.
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.
WFP has negotiated a new agreement governing the terms of its work in the country, which included providing for the best monitoring and access it has ever had since the start up in 1995.
Previously inaccessible areas
The new operation will extend to areas that were previously inaccessible, targeting the young, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Close to half the beneficiaries will be in the remote provinces in the north east that have been hard hit by industrial recession and that are deemed most vulnerable to food insecurity.
During a seven day visit to the DPRK, Banbury made a 2,000 kilometer trip through five of the eight provinces targeted under the new programme: Ryanggang, North Hamgyong, South Hamgyong, Kangwon and Pyongyang. He also met government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Food Administration and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the implementation of the new WFP programme and the need for food assistance.
"WFP has received encouraging cooperation from the government in the past few weeks but there are some areas where further discussion is needed to ensure continued good cooperation and that the food reaches the right people at the right time,” said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, WFP Country Director for the DPRK programme.
"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.
유엔 세계식량계획 WFP가 5억 달러 규모의 대북 식량지원을 시작합니다. WFP는 북한이 최근 10년 동안 최악의 식량위기를 맞고 있다고 밝혔습니다.
베이징에서 표언구 특파원입니다.
탁아소에서 어린이들이 감자를 먹고 있습니다.
유치원 어린이들은 외국 손님들 앞에서 재롱을 부리고 있습니다.
지난달 26일부터 일주일 동안 북한을 다녀온 유엔세계식량계획은 북한이 최근 10년 만에, 최악의 식량위기을 맞고 있다고 밝혔습니다.
[토니 밴버리/세계식량계획 아시아담당 국장 : 지난 1년 넘게 북한은 심각한 식량 위기를맞고 있습니다. 온 나라가 그렇습니다.]
유엔 세계식량계획은 이에따라 기아에 허덕이는 620만 명의 북한 주민들을 위해 내년 11월까지 5억 달러 규모의 긴급식량지원에 나선다고 밝혔습니다.
하지만 지원량을 채우기위해서는 연말까지 6천만 달러가 필요하다고 강조했습니다.
[드 마저리/세계식량계획 평양사무소장 : 우리가 최소한의 필요만큼 모금을 못할 경우 이는 북한 주민들에게 생과 사의 문제가 될 수 있습니다]
밴버리 국장은 이번 지원은 노인과 어린이 등 취약 계층에 집중될 것이라며 기부국들의 지원을 호소했습니다.