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Food situation in North Korea appears “dangerous”, experts warn

North Korea relies on imports and aid from China to make up for the poor harvest.

Seoul:

North Korea’s food situation remains alarming, according to analysts and a UN expert who raised doubts about its harvest this week, and there are signs it is receiving large shipments of humanitarian aid from China.

North Korea has long suffered from food insecurity, with observers saying government mismanagement of the economy has been exacerbated by international sanctions, natural disasters and now the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted unprecedented border lockdowns there.

The country typically relies on imports and aid from China for poor harvests, but its strict self-imposed border lockdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak have slowed trade and led to a shortage of food. Doubts have been raised about its capability.

The UN rights investigator said in a report seen by Reuters this week that international sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program cause additional obstacles, and should be eased to address the humanitarian crisis.

Despite its economic woes, North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal, including testing new short-range missiles in recent weeks and building a major addition to its main nuclear reactor facility. , which analysts say may be aimed at enriching more weapons-grade uranium.

Much is riding on this year’s harvest after leader Kim Jong Un called the food situation “stressful”.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in July that the 2021 growing season appears to be off to a good start, but this week a new report from a US-based think-tank said data collected by satellite A yield below the data is an average or good crop.

“While not yet a crisis of famine proportions, the negative trend, combined with external factors such as low yields in the past year and flood damage to Northeast crop lands and crop transport infrastructure, exacerbates food insecurity in the country,” the Center said. For Strategic and International Studies said this in a report released on Monday.

This week marked the first time in months that North Korea was accepting international aid, with UN agencies saying some shipments had entered the country and were now under quarantine in North Korean ports.

Health and nutrition supplies from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and medical supplies from the World Health Organization to support anti-epidemic operations were among the aid reaching North Korea.

Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Seoul-based Korea Risk Group, said aid shipments are long overdue, and do not indicate a wider opening of borders as North Korea has been delivering in other goods for months. Who keeps an eye on North Korea.

“North Korea has been delivering other goods to the country since May, with what appears to be a large amount of humanitarian aid from China,” he said.

China’s exports to North Korea rose for the third straight month to $22.5 million in August. This was a fraction of the $219 million in exports in August 2019 before the pandemic lockdown.

O’Carroll said he thinks North Korea will still be able to address a major food shortage through aid and imports from China.

“However, the quality, extent and nutritional value of the food supply on offer will be low,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by NB staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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