The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
Maurice F. Strong has reported to the Secretary-General on his recent mission to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) concerning humanitarian and other issues of mutual concern. The Personal Envoy had extensive discussions in Pyongyang with senior government officials, with the United Nations country team and representatives of non-governmental organizations. He also made a field trip to several facilities, which have been receiving food and medical supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The Personal Envoy has recommended exceptional action in light of the seriousness of the humanitarian situation facing the country. A review of the situation by the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and other senior humanitarian officials of the Organization, including the WFP Executive Director, confirms this assessment.
Based on the recommendations of his Personal Envoy and deeply concerned about the need to prevent an impending tragedy, the Secretary-General has decided to seek additional donor support to ensure, at least for the next several months, that the humanitarian pipeline for the DPRK does not dry up. The Secretary-General counts on donors to respond expeditiously to the urgent food and medical needs of the most vulnerable in North Korea. This would avert a major humanitarian crisis and would also create conditions more conducive to the peaceful resolution of the current political standoff. The Secretary-General has requested Maurice F. Strong to deliver in person his emergency appeals to key donors. He is also calling on other countries to help meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the DPRK.