News



DATE=6/14/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-233872
TITLE=NORTH KOREA / FOOD / L-O
BYLINE=STEPHANIE HO
DATELINE=BEIJING
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  EXPERTS FROM THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAM AND 
THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION SAY NORTH KOREA IS 
SUFFERING FROM A FOOD SHORTAGE THAT IS MORE SERIOUS THAN HAD 
INITIALLY BEEN PREDICTED.  V-O-A'S STEPHANIE HO REPORTS, THE 
EXPERTS ADD THEY HOPE TO CONDUCT A COMPREHENSIVE NUTRITIONAL 
SURVEY IN NORTH KOREA WITHIN A MONTH.

TEXT:  THE TWO U-N AGENCIES HAVE JUST CONDUCTED THEIR EIGHTH 
JOINT MISSION TO REVIEW NORTH KOREA'S FOOD SUPPLY SITUATION AND 
TO ASSESS CROP PROSPECTS FOR THIS YEAR.

F-A-O OFFICIAL ABDUR RASHID SAYS -- ALTHOUGH NORTH KOREAN 
CHILDREN SEEM HEALTHIER THAN THEY DID LAST YEAR -- THE FOOD 
SITUATION THERE IS WORSE.  MR. RASHID SAYS THE AMOUNT OF FOOD PER
PERSON PER DAY HAS DECREASED THIS YEAR BY ONE-THIRD AND THAT 
PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION IN SOME AREAS HAS STOPPED, ALTOGETHER.

            // RASHID ACTUALITY //

         WE CHECKED THIS -- LAST YEAR, ALSO, THE PUBLIC 
         DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM CEASED AROUND MID-MARCH IN MANY 
         AREAS.  BUT THE QUANTITIES GIVEN AT THAT TIME WERE 
         HIGHER.  THEY WERE GETTING 150 GRAMS (OF FOOD) PER DAY 
         LAST YEAR, COMPARED TO 100 GRAMS PER DAY THIS YEAR.

            // END ACTUALITY //

MR. RASHID SAYS,FOR THIS YEAR, NORTH KOREA'S TOTAL DEMAND FOR 
GRAIN IS NEARLY TWO MILLION TONS.  NEARLY HALF OF THAT HAS BEEN 
PLEDGED OR ALREADY DELIVERED, BUT HE SAYS THE COUNTRY IS STILL 
EXPECTING A HUGE SHORTFALL.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAM SENIOR OFFICER ROLF HUSS ADDS THAT THE NEXT 
TWO MONTHS ARE ESPECIALLY CRITICAL.

            // HUSS ACTUALITY //

         EXPECTED SHIPMENTS IN JUNE AND JULY WILL AMOUNT ONLY TO 
         45 THOUSAND AND 48 THOUSAND TONS, RESPECTIVELY.  THIS IS
         EXTREMELY WORRYING AND THE MISSION WILL SUGGEST THAT 
         DONORS CONSIDER POSSIBILITIES TO ADVANCE ALREADY PLEDGED
         CONTRIBUTIONS, TO ARRIVE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

            // END ACTUALITY //

THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM IS STILL PROVIDING MORE THAN 600 THOUSAND 
TONS OF FOOD AID TO NORTH KOREA.  IT HAS DEDUCTED 55-THOUSAND 
TONS BECAUSE NORTH KOREA DOES NOT GRANT IT ACCESS TO VARIOUS 
PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

MR. RASHID SAYS ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR FOREIGN AID WORKERS IN NORTH 
KOREA IS TRYING TO DETERMINE THE NUTRITIONAL LEVELS OF THE NORTH 
KOREAN PEOPLE.

            // RASHID ACTUALITY //

         THIS RAISES ANOTHER QUESTION.  DO WE HAVE ANY CREDIBLE 
         NUTRITIONAL ASSESSMENT SO FAR?  THE ANSWER IS NO.

            // END ACTUALITY //

MR. RASHID SAYS U-N AGENCIES ARE HOPING TO CONDUCT SUCH A SURVEY 
NEXT MONTH.  HE SAYS THE PROBLEM OF HUNGER IN NORTH KOREA WILL 
NOT BE SOLVED IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

            // RASHID ACTUALITY //

         THERE ARE STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS.  THERE ARE UNDERLYING 
         PROBLEMS FACING THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR, AND THESE HAVE 
         BEEN EXACERBATED BY NATURAL HAZARDS IN RECENT YEARS.  
         SO, THOSE PROBLEMS ARE NOT GOING TO GO AWAY WITH THE 
         FAVORABLE WEATHER.

            // END ACTUALITY //



DOUGLAS COUTTS -- THE U-N HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR IN NORTH KOREA
-- SAYS POOR SANITATION AND LACK OF CLEAN WATER ARE ALSO 
AFFECTING THE NORTH KOREAN POPULATION.

            // COUTTS ACTUALITY //

         ALL THESE THINGS ARE INTERRELATED BECAUSE OF THE 
         ECONOMIC PROBLEMS.  AND WE HAVE, FRANKLY, UNDERESTIMATED
         VERY MUCH THE IMPACT THAT THE DETERIORATION OF WATER AND
         SANITATION WOULD HAVE.

            // END ACTUALITY //

THE RED CROSS RECENTLY WARNED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF A CHOLERA 
EPIDEMIC IN NORTH KOREA BECAUSE OF CONTAMINATED DRINKING WATER.  
THE U-N EXPERTS SAY THE PROBLEM COULD WORSEN -- POINTING OUT THAT
A LACK OF RAIN THIS YEAR MEANS THE COUNTRY'S RESERVOIRS ARE 
ONE-THIRD BELOW NORMAL.  (SIGNED)

NEB / HO / RW / WD   

14-Jun-98 3:01 AM EDT (0701 UTC)
NNNN

Source: Voice of America
.