'Clear evidence of humanitarian need' in N Korea: UN aid chief

The problem is the backwardness of the country's agriculture system

The problem is the backwardness of the country's agriculture system

Speaking at a press conference in Pyongyang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said funding was the greatest obstacle his organization faces in assisting North Korea.

The UN delegation began a four-day visit to North Korea on Monday, during which it also visited the Pyongyang Children's Foodstuff Factory, the Tower of the Juche Idea and the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability, the KCNA report said.

He said the DPRK has made a lot of progress, illustrated by the fact that the number of stunted children has dropped from 28 percent to 20 percent since 2012.

The United Nations humanitarian chief said Wednesday he had seen "clear evidence" of need in North Korea - where one fifth of children are malnourished - during a rare trip.

Tapan Mishra, UN Resident Coordinator in North Korea, appealed in the "2018 DPR Korea Needs and Priorities Plan" for countries to "not to let political considerations get in the way" of their decision to donate.

The UN earlier this year called for $111m in aid to help improve nutrition, health and sanitation in the North but the programme remains 90 percent underfunded.


Lowcock also said that he had "good discussions" with the authorities in Pyongyang who were providing better access that they used to.

North Korea has periodically been hit by starvation, and hundreds of thousands of people died - estimates range into millions - in the mid-1990s.

He said his North Korean counterparts expressed interest in further United Nations assistance and suggested ways of improving the process.

"But I would not say it is a large exaggeration".

The problem is the backwardness of the country's agriculture system, he said, but some progress has been made recently.

North Korea has faced food shortages against a backdrop of natural disasters including floods and a failing food distribution policy in the past. "They are basically producing something, enough just to keep people alive, not much more than that".

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