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North Korea requests UN aid over food shortage

Crop harvests have been seriously affected by a serious drought and recent flooding.

A flooded building in Anju City, South Phyongan Province in North Korea on 30 July.
A flooded building in Anju City, South Phyongan Province in North Korea on 30 July.
Image: AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon/PA

NORTH KOREAN OFFICIALS have requested food aid from the United Nations, according to a UN resident coordinator’s office in North Korea.

Heavy rains have caused devastating floods which killed over 110 people and left tens of thousands more homeless, North Korean state media reported.

Food harvests this year have been seriously hampered by a severe drought followed by the flooding. In June, the UN reported that around two-thirds of the population were suffering from chronic food insecurity and appealed for $198 million in humanitarian aid.

The UN office says that North Korea has requested food, fuel, medicine, water and purification supplies, as well as seeds and fertilizer to prepare for next season.

Extreme weather conditions resulted in bad harvests last year, causing a severe food shortage which affected over six million people.

A UN report last year said that one ‘positive’ to emerge from the food shortage was the North Korean government’s acknowledgement of the crisis and appeal for help: “[i]n January 2011 the government made an official request for international food assistance – the first time since the last international appeal for humanitarian assistance in 2004.”

In its latest world report, Human Rights Watch says that North Korea’s two largest food donors, the US and South Korea, had withheld aid until North Korea issued an apology over the controversial sinking of South Korean ship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, which lies close to the disputed zone between the two Koreas.

According to the AP, the US said yesterday that it will consider a request for food aid from North Korea but has not received one.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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