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North Korea on brink of catastrophic food crisis

Friday - 10/08/2018 14:38
THE world’s largest disaster relief agency says a food shortage in North Korea could have “potentially catastrophic effects” in the country that saw three million people die in the 1990s from famine.
A malnourished North Korean boy eats vitamin and mineral-enriched food supplied by the United Nations World Food Program in 2004. Picture: APSource:AP
A malnourished North Korean boy eats vitamin and mineral-enriched food supplied by the United Nations World Food Program in 2004. Picture: APSource:AP

A HEATWAVE in North Korea has led to rice, maize and other crops withering in the fields, “with potentially catastrophic effects”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says.

The world’s largest disaster relief network warned of a risk of a “full-blown food security crisis” in the isolated country, where a famine in the mid-1990s killed up to three million people.

Women wearing traditional dress shield their faces from the searing sun as they cross a street in Pyongyang. Picture: AFP
Women wearing traditional dress shield their faces from the searing sun as they cross a street in Pyongyang. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

It said the worrying situation had been exacerbated by international sanctions imposed due to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In a statement issued in Geneva, the IFRC said there had been no rainfall since early July as temperatures soared to an average 39 Celsius across the country, whose official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The next rain was expected in mid-August.

Women push a cart laden with North Korean soft drinks across a road in Pyongyang amid a heatwave. Picture: AFP
Women push a cart laden with North Korean soft drinks across a road in Pyongyang amid a heatwave. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The population of 25 million is already stressed and vulnerable with malnutrition among children that could worsen, stunting their growth, it said.

“This is not yet classified as a drought, but rice, maize and other crops are already withering in the fields, with potentially catastrophic effects for the people of DPRK,” said Joseph Muyamboit, the IFRC’s program manager in Pyongyang. “We cannot and must not let this situation become a full-blown food security crisis. We know that previous serious dry spells have disrupted the food supply to a point where it has caused serious health problems and malnutrition across the country.”

Even animals in North Korea are suffering from a shortage of food. Photo by: Chen Hao
Even animals in North Korea are suffering from a shortage of food. Photo by: Chen HaoSource:News Corp Australia

Drought and floods have long been a seasonal threat in North Korea, which lacks irrigation systems and other infrastructure to ward off natural disasters.

The IFRC was helping the national Red Cross to support 13,700 of the most vulnerable people at risk, in South Hamgyong and South Pyongan provinces.

It had deployed emergency response teams and 20 water pumps to irrigate fields in the hardest-hit areas, it said.

Source:

 Key: North Korea

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