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U.N. to send first food aid to flood-hit North Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) – The World Food Programme (WFP) will send a first batch of emergency food aid to North Korea, where a series of deluges and a typhoon killed nearly 120 people and left more than 84,000 others homeless last month, the agency has said.

In a statement published on its website on Friday, the United Nations aid body said the emergency assistance will provide the flood victims in the destitute country “with an initial ration of 400 grams of maize per day for 14 days.”

It did not say when the food would arrive in North Korea.

According to reports from the United Nations and Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency, storms and downpours have caused severe flooding in a wide area of the country, and have destroyed more than 45,000 hectares of farmland.

A United Nations mission which recently visited the affected regions found considerable damage to maize, soybean and rice fields, the WFP statement said.

A comprehensive assessment of the food situation and of prospects for food production is scheduled for September, it said.

Since the mid-1990s, North Korea’s agricultural sector has become increasingly vulnerable to floods and drought as a result of widespread deforestation.

In Geneva on Friday, U.N. agencies said access to North Korea has improved during the most recent flooding, indicating the country wants to ease its traditional isolation at least temporarily.

Still, it remains one of the world’s most reclusive states, even after young leader Kim Jong-un inherited dynastic power from his father Kim Jong-il, who died in December.

A recent U.N. report classified 7.2 million of the country’s 24 million population as “chronic poor”, and said one in three children suffered from poor nutrition.

(Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

Published Date: Saturday, August 4th, 2012 | 02:55 AM

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