Friday, October 02, 2009

North Korea’s dire humanitarian situation jeopardizes human rights, says UN's Ban

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the impact of the humanitarian situation on human rights in North Korea (DPRK), where over one third of the nearly 24 million-strong population is in need of food assistance.

The Asian nation’s humanitarian problems – including food shortages, a crumbling health system and lack of access to safe drinking water – seriously “hamper the fulfillment of human rights of the population,” Mr. Ban wrote in a new report to the General Assembly.

A joint report by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) released last December estimated that nearly 9 million people could be hungry due to a shortage in cereals in the DPRK this year.

In July, WFP announced that it is being forced to scale back its emergency operation to reach 6 million hungry and vulnerable people in the DPRK due to a severe lack of funding. Of the $504 million needed for the program, only $75 million has been received so far, allowing the agency to reach only 2.3 million people.

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