A “humanitarian intervention” is urgently required, according to the UN. Many families were given very low protein foods and lived on rice and kimchi most of the time.
The internationally isolated North Korea has dramatically reduced food rations for millions of vulnerable residents, according to UN data on crop failures.
The rations are at their lowest for the current season and may need to be further reduced without international assistance, according to a report released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) on Friday in New York presented.
For the report, experts from the two UN agencies traveled to North Korea in November 2018 and this April. They visited state farms and food distribution points in rural and urban areas of the communist country.
The UN experts found that the food rations, on which a large part of the population depends, were cut in January to 300 grams per person per day. In the same period last year, there were still 380 grams for the needy. Many families were given very low protein foods and spent most of their time eating rice and kimchi, the typical fermented white cabbage.
The tightening of food rationing is “worrying because many communities are already vulnerable and any further reduction in already-minimal food rations could plunge them into a hunger crisis,” said co-head of FAO’s North Korea Mission, Nicolas Bidault, and WFP. Moreover, there is the fear that “in the absence of substantial external assistance, rations will be further reduced in the crucial months of June to October”.
In the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of people died during a severe famine in North Korea. The country has been suffering from food shortages for decades. The West blames the leadership in Pyongyang, which, among other things, puts a lot of money into the nation’s nuclear and missile program. The international sanctions imposed on them also hit North Korean farmers hard because of the lack of machine parts and fuel.
The UN report states that a “humanitarian intervention” in North Korea is “urgently needed” given the current supply crisis. The UN has launched an appeal for North Korea for 2019 in the amount of 120 million dollars (107.03 million euros), but so far received only six percent of the total. Most of it came from Russia.