UN Official Reports Severe Food Shortage in North Korea

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 6:45 pm (UTC-5)
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A United Nations official in charge of humanitarian affairs says during a visit to North Korea she found there is a serious food shortage, causing a growing number of children to suffer from malnutrition.

Under-secretary-general Valerie Amos warned of the dire situation in the Asian country upon return Friday from a five-day mission to verify reports that six million people in North Korea are in need of food assistance.

She said after speaking with people from all walks of life as well as foreign diplomats and humanitarian workers, she found that the average annual food shortage is about a million tons per year, out of a total food requirement of 5.3 million tons. She said people survive on maize, rice and cabbage if they are lucky and that levels of malnutrition are high, resulting in stunted growth among one third of the children.

She the situation has grown worse since the mid-1990s.

Amos found that despite efforts to grow food, North Korea does not have enough arable land to produce all the food it needs, and that it cannot be food self-sufficient in the foreseeable future.

She called for a new approach to solve North Korea's food shortages and said the North Korean government must lead that effort.