Thursday, February 10, 2011

North Korea asks for more rice from other governments

It appears that North Korea may be suffering through another famine as it is asking for food aid from individual governments. This presents a big change for the isolated dictatorship for in the past they only relied on assistance from the World Food Programme.

From the Guardian, writer Julian Borger gives us more details on North Korea's change in asking for help.

The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has begun a food needs assessment in North Korea, but the WFP said that last year it managed to raise only a fifth of the budget it needed for its North Korean aid programme.

That shortfall may be one of the reasons Pyongyang is trying a direct approach this year, observers said.

"This year, all 40 North Korean embassies have been ordered by Pyongyang to ask governments for food. They have each been given a quota," an Asian diplomat said.

Another Asian official said the order appears to have been given in December: "Kim Jong-il has told his embassies to get as much rice as possible."

In November the WFP and FAO warned that the majority of North Korea's population faced continued hunger this year after harvests were affected by unusually bad weather.

North Korea has repeatedly been hit by famines in recent decades, particularly when bad weather has exacerbated the effects of inefficient collectivist farming practices and a shortage of mechanisation. The situation was particularly acute in the mid-1990s when between 600,000 and more than 2 million people are believed to have died.

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