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Famine in North Korea

'N Korea urgently needs food aid'

Image
Up to 2.5 million North Koreans, or about 10 per cent of its population, died in the 1990s due to famines caused by drought, flooding and mismanagement
North Korea urgently needs food aid after floods devastated farmland and displaced thousands of people, an official from the hermit kingdom said.

Source itv news

Kim Song-won, an official with the North's Committee for National Economic Cooperation, said his country would not refuse help from the South, a major aid donor, if it came with no strings attached.

"The most urgent thing is to resolve the food problem and the need for rice is especially great," a South Korean news agency quoted Kim as saying.

North Korea has previously turned down offers of help from international aid agencies and from South Korea's Red Cross to cope with flooding that could push the country - which battles chronic food shortages - to famine, officials have said.

Three major storms hit North Korea in July, leaving nearly 300 people dead or missing, international agencies said.

North Korea earlier this year requested 500,000 tonnes of rice from the South, but Seoul linked the aid to the North's return to stalled talks on ending its nuclear weapons programme.

Mr Kim said the exact number of people affected by the flooding was not known, but there had been heavy damage to farms in the south where the main staple rice is grown.

"Large areas of paddies and fields are completely under water, so rice farming looks impossible," he said.

"Barren hills caused farm houses to be swept away, leaving people to camp out on elevated land, and they are far short of food and blankets. It's devastating," Mr Kim said.

The UN World Food Programme said Pyongyang has turned down its offer of emergency food aid. The WFP estimates 60,000 people were made homeless or displaced by the flooding.

Up to 2.5 million North Koreans, or about 10 per cent of its population, died in the 1990s due to famines caused by drought, flooding and mismanagement of the agriculture sector, the WFP has quoted studies as saying.