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DATE=12/15/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-243018 TITLE=UN/NORTH KOREA AID (L-ONLY) -- CQ BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE UNITED NATIONS AND PRIVATE AGENCIES HAVE LAUNCHED A JOINT APPEAL FOR 376-MILLION DOLLARS TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO NORTH KOREA THROUGHOUT 1999. THE U-N SAYS MORE THAN 100-MILLION DOLLARS OF THIS APPEAL ALREADY HAS BEEN PLEDGED. FROM GENEVA, LISA SCHLEIN HAS MORE. TEXT: THE MONEY WILL PROVIDE FOOD AND OTHER CRUCIAL ASSISTANCE TO NEARLY FIVE-AND-A-HALF MILLION NORTH KOREANS CONSIDERED MOST VULNERABLE. ALMOST 90 PERCENT OF THE MONEY WILL BE USED FOR FOOD AID. DESPITE AN IMPROVED HARVEST THIS YEAR, THE UNITED NATIONS SAYS NORTH KOREA WILL CONTINUE TO SUFFER SERIOUS FOOD SHORTAGES IN 1999. THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM ESTIMATES THE COUNTRY WILL BEGIN THE NEW YEAR WITH A FOOD DEFICIT OF OVER ONE MILLION TONS. A RECENT JOINT STUDY BY TWO U-N AGENCIES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION REVEALED THAT MOST OF THE CHILDREN SURVEYED UNDER THE AGE OF SEVEN SUFFERED FROM ACUTE OR CHRONIC MALNUTRITION. THE STUDY FOUND THE RATES OF MALNUTRITION IN NORTH KOREA TO BE AMONG THE HIGHEST IN ASIA. IN ALL OF ASIA, ONLY INDIA AND BANGLADESH HAVE HIGHER RATES. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM SPOKESWOMAN CHRISTIANE BERTHIAUME SAYS THE IMPACT OF MALNUTRITION AMONG CHILDREN IS LONG-LASTING AND VERY DAMAGING. ///BERTHIAUME ACT/// THEY DO SUFFER WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE THE WEIGHT OR THE HEIGHT THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE. AND, THEY DO SUFFER PERMANENTLY PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL DAMAGES. THESE CHILDREN WILL BE (MORE PRONE TO) DIABETES, OR SUFFER FROM HEART ATTACKS. ///END ACT/// THE SURVEY ALSO FOUND SERIOUS NUTRITIONAL PROBLEMS AMONG OTHER VULNERABLE GROUPS IN NORTH KOREA, SUCH AS THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED. THE UNITED NATIONS SAYS NORTH KOREA'S CHRONIC FOOD SHORTAGES ARE DUE MORE TO THE BAD STATE OF THE ECONOMY THAN THE BAD WEATHER. AND IT SAYS UNTIL ITS ECONOMY IMPROVES, NORTH KOREA WILL CONTINUE TO DEPEND ON INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE. /// REST OPT /// IN THE MEANTIME, THE UNITED NATIONS PLANS TO USE SOME OF THE MONEY FROM THE APPEAL TO HELP REHABILITATE THE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM, TO PROVIDE PUBLIC HEALTH CARE, GOOD WATER AND SANITATION. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/PCF/GE 15-Dec-98 11:24 AM EST (1624 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .