DPRK

Australia: Humanitarian and agricultural assistance to North Korea

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News and Press Release
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MEDIA RELEASE - MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA 00 003 16 February 2000

Australia will provide $6 million for programs designed to address the current humanitarian crisis and the longer term root causes of food insecurity in North Korea.

A serious and complex humanitarian crisis persists in North Korea. The United Nations reports food shortages still exist among the general population, despite some improvement in rice production this year. Malnutrition in children continues as a result of food shortages combined with health problems aggravated by diarrhoeal diseases.

The United Nations has drawn up a strategy, with the consensus of the North Korean Government, to embark on a longer-term recovery and rehabilitation program. While emergency assistance will continue, particularly in food aid and health services, the United Nations sees a need to broaden assistance by addressing the causes of food shortages.

As part of this strategy, Australia will provide $5 million to the World Food Programme for food aid and agricultural rehabilitation programs. These programs include 'food-for-work' activities including restarting 20 small scale bakeries in the most vulnerable counties, repair of 100 km of sea dykes and 300 km of irrigation canals and dams, flood control measures and reforestation activities.

In addition, Australia will provide $250,000 to UNICEF for vitamins and minerals for local production of corn soya; $500,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for health education and medicine and $250,000 to WHO for a tuberculosis control program. Malnutrition has increased susceptibility to tuberculosis and the number of cases has sharply increased making it a serious public health problem.

This package of assistance is the second part of $10 million in aid to North Korea I announced in May last year. $4 million has already been provided to assist food production and distribution.

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890
Fionna Douglas (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 / 0412 804 489