North Korea cutbacks spread to east

DPRK: Not just food aid

  • Funding shortages are not just undermining WFP's food rations. They are also threatening the future of food-producing factories which rely on WFP for ingredients, spare parts and expertise.

  • Nine out of 10 of the factories are no longer fully operational because of funding shortages.

  • The factories produce vitamin and mineral enriched food for children and pregnant and breast-feeding mothers.

Lack of funding has forced WFP to make the firstever cutbacks to its operations in eastern DPRK.

Until now, WFP has limited interruptions in its delivery of food rations to North Koreans living in western parts of the country, traditionally more agricultural-based than the industrial east.

But the latest cutbacks will affect some 600,000 people in the east, including 320,000 children from primary schools, 200,000 old people and 75,000 persons confined to institutions.

This month, the agency has stopped delivering food rations to 700,000 people, bringing the number of North Koreans now missing out on WFP food aid to 2.9 million.

The shortfalls have come at the worst possible time - the middle of the harsh winter season when temperatures can plunge to minus 30 degrees Celsius.


WFP launched a new appeal at the start of the year for US$201 million to provide 521,000 metric tons of food aid to 6.4 million people over the next 12 months.

To date, contributions to the operation amount to little more than seven percent of total needs.

The next food aid ship - 39,000 metric tons of Chinese grain donated by the European Community - will not reach DPRK's ports before the end of February.

After a further 23,000 tonne pledge from the EC and 100,000 tonnes from Italy, there are no more donations in the North Korean pipeline.

Without new pledges, WFP's food pipeline risks running dry in May. Two-four months usually pass before new contributions actually reach DPRK.

his is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 18 February 2003, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

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