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WFP Does What Little It Can For North Koreans

As we scale back our food assistance programme to North Koreans, WFP is allocating the limited food stocks available to some of the most vulnerable regions and beneficiary groups.

Food distributions are still going on in the northeastern regions most affected by the food crisis and local production of fortified foods has also been prioritized. This is in order to combat malnutrition among young children and pregnant and lactating women. Between 3,000 and 3,500 metric tons should be distributed monthly over the next three months.

WFP has had to scale back its humanitarian food assistance programme in Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after several months of funding shortfalls and operations are currently at only 15 percent of planned levels.

Two million people are receiving food assistance out of the 6.2 million targeted by the emergency operation approved last year. Even these beneficiaries are receiving incomplete rations of fortified foods.

Basic operational structure remains

Meanwhile, we are decreasing the number of international monitoring staff, closing down field offices and re-focusing activities to a core minimum. WFP will maintain a basic operational structure in the country to allow for a rapid expansion of food assistance if more funding is received.

We are concerned that the scale back of operations will have a very negative impact on food security for the population.

The country is soon to enter the critical ‘lean season’ when food stocks from last year’s harvest  run low. In certain parts of North Korea, particularly in the Northeast, high levels of malnutrition are anticipated.

So far, WFP has received contributions of US$22.7 million – about  4.5 percent of the US$504 million budget for the planned emergency operation. The magnitude of the food needs and the size of the programme however means that we need close to US$8million/week to sustain it.

Read DPRK story in Washington Post