6 million North Koreans Need Food Aid

26 03 2011

WASHINGTON (AP 24 Mar. 2011) — The United Nations reported Thursday that more than 6 million North Koreans — about a quarter of the communist state’s population — are in urgent need of international food assistance.

The findings will add to pressure for the United States to resume food aid to North Korea suspended in 2009 after private groups monitoring the distribution of food were expelled. But doing so could be seen as aiding a government which has since advanced its nuclear weapons programs and had armed clashes with U.S. ally South Korea.

In its report, the result of an assessment conducted in February and March, the U.N. said that North Korea has suffered a series of shocks including summer floods and then a harsh winter, “leaving the country highly vulnerable to a food crisis.” It said the worst affected include children, women and the elderly, and recommended providing 430,000 metric tons of food aid.

North Korea’s public distribution system will run out of food at the beginning of the “lean season” that runs between May and July, between spring and fall harvests. This would “substantially increase the risk of malnutrition and other diseases,” the report said.

Three U.N. agencies — the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNICEF — conducted the assessment at North Korea’s request. They visited 40 counties in nine of the country’s 11 provinces. Five nongovernment U.S. aid agencies who visited the North last month reported severe food shortages and alarming malnutrition among children.

The U.S. says it is considering resuming food aid to the North, which has had chronic problems in feeding its people since its assistance from the former Soviet Union ended. The country suffered famine in the mid-1990s in which at least hundreds of thousands are believed to have died.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said Thursday the results of the U.N. assessment were “dire” and called for resumption of aid if it could be properly monitored. “It is tempting to withhold food assistance until North Korea abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons or adopts economic reforms. But the North demonstrated during the famine in the mid-to-late 1990s, in which an estimated 5-10 percent of ordinary North Koreans died, that it is willing to allow its people to suffer enormously,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.

International donors will be concerned that any food aid not be redirected from civilians to North Korea’s powerful military…

Need to curb Foot-and Mouth disease in DPR Korea: UN

New York, Mar 25 : Around USD 1 million of equipment and vaccines are urgently needed to help stem outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), where farm animals are crucial to food security, the United Nations warned on Thursday.

Such efforts need to be followed by a more prolonged and concerted effort to modernize veterinary services in the country, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in anews release following a joint mission it made with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) mission at the Government’s request earlier this month.

FMD does not pose a direct health threat to humans, but affected animals become too weak to be used to plough the soil or reap harvests, suffer significant weight loss, and produce less milk. Many animals are dying from the highly contagious disease, which affects cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, swine and other cloven-hoofed animals and spreads through body fluids that can contaminate clothing, crates, truck beds and hay.

The mission found that DPRK’s capacity to detect and contain FMD needs significant strengthening, in particular in bio-security measures and improving laboratory infrastructure and capacity. Outbreaks have been reported in eight of the 13 provinces in DPRK, which has a livestock population of about 577,000 cattle, 2.2 million pigs and 3.5 million goats.

To bring the situation under control, the mission recommended thorough surveillance to locate and map disease clusters; protecting unaffected farms through movement controls and bio-security measures; adequate sampling to correctly identify the virus strain or strains involved; and strategic use of the appropriate vaccines to contain and isolate disease clusters.

The FAO-OIE mission visited several collective farms, the national veterinary laboratory and various animal health field stations, providing guidance on taking and handling FMD samples. Only by accurately typing the virus or viruses involved in the outbreaks will it be possible to identify the most effective vaccine to use against it, FAO said…



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26 03 2011
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