Thursday, April 17, 2008

North Korea at risk of famine

North Korea may be on the brink of another famine as a result of last year's devastating floods, the worldwide increase in food prices, and a malnourished population, the United Nations warned today.

"North Korea ... faces a dire food shortage," U.N. World Food Program spokesman Paul Risley said at a Bangkok news conference. "Because of high global food prices it will be very difficult for the government of DPRK to purchase food on global markets to make up the difference."

The Democratic Republic of North Korea is still recovering from a famine in the 1990s that is believed to have killed about a million people and left many children permanently stunted, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Nearly 40 percent of North Korea's young children remain "chronically malnourished," according to a recent survey by the WFP and UNICEF. And this year, the isolated communist country is expected to see the largest harvest deficit since 2001, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The price of rice and other staple foods has doubled over the past year.


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