WFP says US$32.1 mln needed for food aid to N. Korea this year

Baku, January 24, AZERTAC

The World Food Program said US$32.1 million is required to provide food support to North Korea this year amid constraints on assisting the impoverished country due to international sanctions, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The U.N. food agency said in a recent report that around 10.3 million people -- more than 40 percent of the population -- are undernourished.

Last year, the WFP carried out operations across nine provinces in the country, focusing on children under five, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women in areas outside Pyongyang, it said.

"Low mechanization, limited arable land, lack of quality inputs and fertilizers hamper agriculture productivity," the agency said.

Droughts and floods have also resulted in reductions in food production.

The agency said international sanctions remain a key challenge to carrying out its activities in North Korea.

Humanitarian activities are not banned under sanctions, but they affect such operations through a disruption of banking channels, breakdown in supply chains and delays in transportation of goods.

"Ship owners are more reluctant to send their vessels to DPRK because of lengthy cargo inspections and fines," the WFP said. DPRK is the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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