Estonia is aiding needy citizens in North Korea with 500 000 kroons (32 000 EUR) through the World Food Programme (WFP). The project is being funded from the Foreign Ministry's budget for the development and humanitarian aid.
According to Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the situation in North Korea is quite alarming. "During the next few months, 8.7 million people will require immediate food aid. Prognoses for next year suggest that the situation will worsen, because the ruling regime cannot independently produce enough food for the population," said Foreign Minister Paet. The people suffering the most from the food shortage are children, young people, the mothers of babies, and the elderly.
The productivity of the North Korean agricultural sector has been hindered by the floods of the last few years, the long-time decline of soil fertility, insufficient fertilising, and a lack of fuel. The result is great shortages that force the population to suffer under extremely difficult conditions due to the scarcity of food.
The WFP estimates that the amount of food aid needed to cover the requirements of 9 million people until the next harvest in October 2009 is 800 000 tonnes. The World Food Programme requires almost 8 million American dollars a week to guarantee the urgently needed food aid for North Korean people. Therefore Estonia also decided to contribute through the WFP to help alleviate the famine in North Korea.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry's budget for development and humanitarian aid in 2008 totals 60 million kroons.
Detailed descriptions of projects and an overview of Estonia's development cooperation projects of the past few years can be found on the Foreign Ministry's web page.
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