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N. Korea among 47 countries facing food shortages due to global pandemic: U.N. agency

All News 08:56 May 19, 2020

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- Around 183 million people in 47 countries, including North Korea, are facing the possibility of severe food insecurity as border closures and disruptions in global supply chains have restricted their access to farming products, a U.N. food agency said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also estimated in the report that around US$350 million will be needed this year to provide necessary assistance to those countries facing a looming crisis.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating lives, public health systems, livelihoods and economies across the world, populations living in food crisis contexts and those whose resilience has been eroded by previous crises are particularly exposed to its effects," the report said.

"Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is already directly affecting food systems through impacts on food supply and demand, and indirectly through decreases in purchasing power, the capacity to produce and distribute food, and the intensification of care tasks, all of which will have differentiated impacts and will more strongly affect the poor and vulnerable," it added.

The report noted, "There is a serious risk that people will experience famine conditions if needs are not met," saying that around $350 million will be needed "to ensure the provision of critical assistance where there are already high levels of need."

It, however, did not provide details on situations in North Korea, such as how many people are facing food shortage problems.

In March, the FAO designated North Korea as a country facing a food shortage, while the World Meteorological Organization, another U.N. agency, also projected that around 10 million people in the country with a population of 25 million will require urgent food assistance.

North Korea is believed to be suffering from chronic food shortage problems caused by unfavorable weather and global sanctions, restricting its access to fertilizer and other key farming materials. It has recently ramped up calls for "food self-reliance" as the rice transplanting season has started in full swing.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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