Monday, September 18, 2006

World Food Programme appeal for North Koreans

The World Food Programme has launched an urgent appeal for funds to feed North Korea, saying more than one third of its children are badly malnourished.

The UN relief agency said that so far it had received just eight percent of the 102 million dollars it needs to provide 150,000 tons of food over the next two years.

"We expect to be running out of commodities within the next two months," WFP deputy executive director John M. Powell told a news conference. Only three countries -- Australia, Cuba and Russia -- have made donations so far in response to the appeal, the WFP said.

The isolated Stalinist state has pressed on with its nuclear and missile programs despite severe food shortages dating back to the mid-1990s which forced it to accept international aid.

Floods this summer, partly blamed on deforestation by residents desperate for firewood, caused further hardship. The WFP has already offered 150 tons of food aid to the flood victims.

The WFP said last month that an estimated 60,000 North Koreans were left homeless and 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) of farmland destroyed in the recent flooding. The agency said flooding of farmland caused the loss of 100,000 tons of food supplies, adding to the chronic food crisis.


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