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UN calls for US $98 million to respond to urgent humanitarian priorities in DPR Korea

© UNICEF Norway/Truls Brekke

(Bangkok/New York, 15 August 2013)  - The United Nations has updated its plans to address critical humanitarian needs in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea) for the remainder of 2013.

The humanitarian programmes being implemented by five UN agencies in DPR Korea remain drastically underfunded. Of the overall funding requirement of US$150 million for 2013, $98 million is still urgently needed for food and agricultural support, health and nutrition, water and sanitation interventions.

"While the overall humanitarian situation has improved slightly over the last 12 months, the structural causes of people’s vulnerability persist,” said the UN Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai. “External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding the lives of millions whose food security, nutritional status and essential health needs would otherwise be seriously compromised."

Around 2.4 million very vulnerable people in the most food insecure provinces need regular food assistance. The cereal deficit for the 2012/13 marketing year is estimated at 507,000 metric tons with serious gaps remaining between recommended and actual nutrient intake, widely due also to a lack of dietary diversity. Lack of agricultural inputs remains the main challenge for food production.

"Without sustained humanitarian support, the gains made the past 10 years in improving food security and the overall health and nutrition of the most vulnerable - children, pregnant and nursing’ mothers, and the elderly - could be quickly reversed," noted Mr. Isaczai.

Around 16 million people remain chronically food insecure and highly vulnerable to food production gaps. Despite this being the narrowest gap in many years, malnutrition rates continue to be of great concern with a chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate among children under five at 27.9 percent and 4 per cent who are acutely malnourished (wasting), according to the 2012 National Nutrition Survey.

"We hope that donors will respond quickly and generously to allow UN agencies to address the humanitarian situation. Separating humanitarian needs from political issues is a prerequisite for a sustainable improvement in the condition of people," emphasized Mr. Isaczai.



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