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UN body renews appeals for more food for North

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Jan 06,2003
Continuing its campaign to revive international attention to North Korea's faltering agricultural sector and critical food shortages, the World Food Program said in a new report that more than 10 percent of North Korea's population would be dropped from its grain distribution program early this year if more donations are not forthcoming. The report said that the Stalinist state's farm sector performed poorly last year because of bad weather during the limited growing season there and erratic supplies of fuel and electric power. The UN agency said that the North's rice harvest was about 20 percent lower than last year's harvest; corn production was off 18 percent, the agency said. There were no offsetting increases in any other food crop, the report said. North Korea has been heavily dependent on international food aid since 1995. The country produced 1.7 million tons of rice and 1.6 million tons of corn in 2001, the South Korea's National Statistical Office reported recently, a dramatic fall from the combined 8 million metric tons of cereal production in the 1980s. Officials in Washington, the largest food donor to North Korea, said Thursday it will continue its humanitarian food assistance to North Korea despite Pyeongyang's rejection on Dec. 16 of any U.S. aid with political strings attached. "We don't intend to curtail food for political reasons," Richard Boucher, the U.S. State Department spokesman, told reporters. "We intend to continue to provide food assistance and would hope to be able to work out arrangements to monitor it properly." Washington has complained regularly that food aid to the North is being diverted to the military there, but the UN food agency says its monitoring is sufficient to prevent such diversions. In South Korea, food aid to the North has been hotly debated because of growing public skepticism about the effectiveness of Seoul's engagement policy toward Pyeongyang. Seoul had promised to send 400,000 tons of rice to North Korea last year; it has sent 380,000 tons and officials say the rest of the pledged rice will be shipped by Jan. 13.
by Ser Myo-ja
January 03, 2003




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