DPR Korea 40 per cent of population in danger of going hungry

A joint assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) found that agricultural production will fall short of what is needed this year because of critical shortages of fertilizer and fuel, in spite of favourable climate conditions during the past growing season. “DPRK will face a severe food situation over the coming months,” said Henri Josserand, Chief of FAO”s Global Information and Early Warning System, notwithstanding the hard work by both farmers and city dwellers. “The prospects for next year are bleak, with a substantial deficit of basic foods that will only partly be covered by commercial imports and anticipated food aid,” he added. Even with commercial imports, DPRK will face a cereal deficit of over 800,000 tons, the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, the first such comprehensive mission conducted since 2004. “With such a large food gap, accessing enough food and a balanced diet will be almost impossible, particularly for families living in urban areas or in the remote food-deficit provinces in the Northeast,” Torben Due, WFP’s Representative in DPRK said in the capital, Pyongyang. He warned that this could have serious consequences for the health of the most vulnerable people in the Asian nation. Only 142 kilograms of the 167 kilograms needed for a healthy diet will be available per person from the domestic production, the new report found. Food rations handed out by the Public Distribution System (PDS) – the main food source for some 70 per cent of the population – are expected to be slashed dramatically, with most families in the DPRK already cutting back on the number of meals per day. The low productivity of the farming sector is propelled by a long-term drop in soil fertility, lack of inputs, extreme weather and structural issues such as constraints on market activities. Although seeds were available this year, there was a 40 per cent decline in fertilizer supplies and a 30 per cent drop in fuel supplies. “The current agricultural production model and farming techniques are not sustainable,” FAO’s Mr. Josserand noted. “The country has been taking up conservation agriculture, improved seed multiplication and other efficient practices, but turning the whole sector around will take quite some time.” 8 December 2008An estimated 40 per cent of the population of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) – almost 9 million people – will be in need of urgent food aid in the next few months due to a shortage in cereals, according to a new United Nations report. read more

Time to move from promises to action UN envoy urges Malian parties

“The peace process is complex, but it is time to move from promises to action to meet agreed deadlines,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), told the Security Council, adding that advancing the peace process and holding the elections must go hand in hand.He noted that the entire political class agreed that elections must take place on time, with the utmost transparency and credibility.  Just as the 2013 elections re-established constitutional order in Mali, those in 2018 must irreversibly anchor democracy. Presidential elections are scheduled for 29 July and 12 August, and legislative elections in November and December.In terms of preparations, he said, an agreement is in place to revise the electoral law and an order has been placed for eight million voter’s cards.  In line with its mandate, MINUSMA has started to lend technical and logistical support, including the distribution of election materials and deployment of electoral personnel, while also preparing for any potential violence. The Special Representative said the Security Council must call upon the Malian political class to respect the adopted timetable and encourage them along the path to consensual, peaceful and credible elections. “The alternative would mean adding one crisis onto another, with the enemies of peace emerging the victors,” he said. “They do not merit such a gift.”The security situation has deteriorated, particularly in the centre of Mali, he said, noting that an independent expert recently voiced concerns about serious human rights violations in the country.With the UN country team, MINUSMA has launched an initiative to promote the restoration of State authority in central Mali, as well as economic growth and the provision of social services.Emphasizing that a purely security approach is not enough, he said the Mission is continuing to support the specialist judicial system tackling terrorism, money-laundering and cross-border crime. He emphasized the need for the training of peacekeeping troops, adding that the Mission remained about 100 armoured vehicles short. Troop- and police-contributing countries have been asked to do what they could to fill the equipment gap.  Canada’s offer of six helicopters, while welcome, fell short of what is needed.Turning to the ongoing strategic review of MINUSMA, he said the Mission is awaiting the Secretary-General’s recommendations with the hope that ensuing discussions will lead to a better alignment between its mandate and the realities on the ground. read more