N. Korea Citizens to Face Intensified Hunger, Poverty

North Korea’s already poverty-stricken citizens are expected to confront a dire winter with reduced food aid, according to the United Nations.

Millions of North Koreans will face “real hardship” this winter as a result of reduced food aid from key foreign donors, reported The Associated Press on Monday.

Following Pyongyang missile test fires in July, its key supporter South Korea stopped aid. Moreover, aid from China was down 60 percent compared to the previous year said Mike Huggins, a World Food Program (WFP) spokesman who recently returned from a five-day trip to North Korea.

“If that food aid is not there, then there is going to be very real hardship,” Huggins had said to reporters in Beijing, according to Reuters.

Aid shortage this year compiled with the North’s decision to accept less food from WFP means about 4 million less people will be fed this year, Huggins said.

Last year, North Korea’s deputy of foreign affairs minister had announced that the United Nations and all foreign non-governmental organization should stop food aid supplies and leave the country. Instead, the U.N. reduced its aid. Christian groups working in the country at that time included World Vision and Caritas.

North Korea had suffered from a severe famine lasting several years beginning in 1995. Experts have estimated that as many as two million people in the reclusive state have died of hunger in the 1990s.

Huggins said 37 percent of children under six are chronically malnourished in North Korea and one-third of North Korean women are anemic and malnourished.

WFP said last month that it had only received eight percent of the $102 million it needed to provide 150,000 tons of food over a span of two years, according to AFP.

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