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Press release

UN Agencies in DPRK Urgently Require US$29.4 Million to Respond to Critical and Life-saving Needs

PYONGYANG/BANGKOK, 29 April 2013 - The World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appeal for urgent funding to be able to meet the most critical and life-saving needs of the people of DPRK in the areas of Health and Nutrition up to the end of the year.

Despite a slight improvement of the overall humanitarian situation over the last 12 months, the structural causes of people’s vulnerability persist. External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting the well-being of millions whose food security, nutritional status and general health would otherwise be seriously compromised.

The five UN agencies in DPRK remain seriously underfunded. In 2013, a total of US$ 147 million is needed to respond to key humanitarian priorities of which only 26.8% has been received so far. As a result of the persisting deficit, agencies are unable to respond effectively to the humanitarian needs out of which the most critical and life-saving ones urgently require US$ 29.4 million.

Even though the imposed sanctions clearly exclude humanitarian assistance, a negative impact on the levels of humanitarian funding has been experienced. The dire funding situation leaves the UN agencies and other humanitarian actors concerned about the continuation of their programmes in DPRK.

 Agency  Sector  Urgent Requirements (US$)
 WFP  Nutrition  20,000,000
 UNICEF  Health / Nutrition  4,476,954
 WHO  Health  2,450,421
 FAO  Nutrition  2,000,000
 UNFPA  Health  500,000
 Total    29,427,375


UNICEF: Health is one of the largest programmes of UNICEF in DPRK dealing with major child survival issues. Some of the interventions are nation-wide like immunization. Due to funding constraints, it is difficult to procure life-saving vaccines as well as essential medicines that are vital to prevent the major child killer diseases including diarrhoea and pneumonia among children under five.

Urgent funding is needed to ensure that UNICEF is able to order the most life saving essential supplies timely in the year to avoid any acute crisis of routine vaccines (BCG, TT, measles and Hepatitis B) and essential medicines in the field to offer the minimum basic health services to the children and women of DPR Korea.

WHO: Prevalence of pneumonia and diarrhoea among children is high as is maternal mortality rate. There is an estimated 60% gap in the supply of essential drugs for vulnerable children and pregnant mothers. Children above 5 years of age, adolescents, women and men are also vulnerable to pneumonia and diarrheal diseases, pregnancy related complications, post-operative complications and other conditions leading to disability and death. Life saving interventions at county level can effectively reduce disability and death among vulnerable groups of people.

Urgent funding is needed to reduce mortality and morbidity from common life-threatening conditions and obstetric complications of the most vulnerable boys, girls, men and women through improved access to quality care.

UNFPA: The programme of UNFPA is to improve access to and quality of reproductive health care, ensure safe motherhood and improve survival of newborns. While some interventions (e.g. provision of life-saving drugs for obstetric care) are nationwide, others (e.g. provision of essential equipment/supplies, training for service providers, health promotion, etc.) are only targeting certain geographical areas due to funding constraints.

Urgent funding is needed to strengthen county hospitals for provision of basic maternal care to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period.


WFP: Around 1.6 million children, pregnant and breastfeeding women in 85 counties need regular assistance and access to nutritious food. Due to pipeline breaks WFP closed the production of Super Cereals and nutritious biscuits in four out of 14 factories in March 2013. To stretch the food commodities in stock, WFP has decreased the number of rations days from 30 to 20, and cut distributions of nutrition biscuits to Children (between 7-10 years old) in the western part of the country. More than 133,000 children in schools do not receive any assistance at all. Instead of providing Super cereals, WFP has distributed maize and pulses to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children in institutions.

Except for wheat, used only for the local food production, WFP had to cut off other parts of food items in the rations (pulses, cereals, oil), focusing on maintaining the distribution of Super Cereals. However, lack of commodities in August 2013 will lead to a halt in distributions till the end of the year.

The provision of Super Cereals is far from enough to ensure that the nutritional status of the most vulnerable segments of the population is kept. While the provision of Super Cereals and nutritious biscuits ensures the access to fundamental vitamins and micronutrients, which depending on target group, covers between 50-100% the daily nutrient needs, the provision of full rations is considered necessary in order to save lives.

To keep up the distributions of 100 gr. Super Cereal for the 1.6 million identified vulnerable children and pregnant and nursing mothers, urgent funding is needed to purchase 20,000 metric tons of food commodities for the production.

UNICEF: The 2012 National Nutrition Survey showed that the fight against stunting (27.9% among children under 5) needs to be strengthened mainly in the period surrounding pregnancy and the two initial years of life - the so called critical 1000 Days period - while the management of severe acute malnutrition needs to continue. Poor foetal growth and stunting in the first 2 years of life lead to irreversible damage, including shorter adult height, lower attained schooling, reduced adult income, lower productivity and decreased offspring birth weight. This also has intergenerational impact exacerbated by under-nutrition and anaemia in women. The chronic malnutrition (stunting / growth retardation) and the acute malnutrition (wasting / thinness) are an important concern in DPRK.

Shortage of funding will affect the delivery of services to severe acute malnourished children before the end of 2013 and is greatly limiting the possibilities to offer adequate micronutrient supplementation to women and children to compensate for the low food diversity of their diet.

Urgent funding is needed to ensure that UNICEF is able to order the most essential supplies in 2013 for the management of severe acute malnutrition and the provision of micronutrient supplementation to offer the minimal basic services to the children and women without interrupting the contribution to the children's growth and development.

FAO: Lack of agricultural inputs (seeds and fertilizer) remains the main challenge for the continued food production. There is a need to increase protein rich soybean and nutrient rich vegetable production and quality, integrate inputs, practices and produce management with a view to bridge the acute gap between demand and supply. There is also a need to encourage production augmentation of nutrient rich food items such as vegetables for enhancing dietary diversity.

Urgent funding is needed to procure vegetable and legumes seeds, and fertilizer, to establish plastic tunnels for vegetable production and to improve post-harvest management of vegetable produce for its timely availability for enhancing production and availability of food.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org

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For further information, please contact:

Desiree Jongsma, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. and UNICEF Representative, Tel. +850 381 715, djongsma@unicef.org

Dierk Stegen, WFP Representative, Tel. +850 381 7221, dierk.stegen@wfp.org
Dr. Yonas Tegegn WHO Representative, Tel. +850 381 7914, tegegny@searo.who.int

Belay Gaga Derza, FAO Deputy Resident Representative, Tel. +850 381 7345, belayderza.gaga@fao.org

Arie Hoekman, UNFPA Country Director, Tel. +861 653 20503, hoekman@unfpa.org




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