Saturday, October 30, 2010

North Korea faces drought and declining food aid

A predicted rainfall shortage in some parts of North Korea, combined with reduced food aid this year, will have an "alarming" effect on the nutrition of the nation's young children and pregnant and lactating women, the U.N. Secretary-General warns.

Ban Ki-moon told U.N. member nations in a report on North Korea's human rights situation that rainfall in some areas of the country is expected to be 18 percent lower this year than in 2009, despite torrential downpours and flooding that hit the country's west on Aug. 20.

U.N. agencies providing humanitarian assistance in the country are also increasingly faced with critical funding shortages, and have managed to provide only 20 percent of the $492 million required in 2009, he said. "This has led to a downsizing of operations, with several areas and some vulnerable groups no longer receiving international assistance," Ban's report said.

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