[imText1]UN World Food Program (WFP) said that it would end its operations of food production in North Korea on the 15th of this month.
“Tomorrow is 15th, which is mid-November, so yes, they will be suspending operations of WFP-assisted food production…” said Gerald Bourke, the spokesman in the Beijing office of WFP, on a phone call with Radio Free Asia, “We will continue some distributions and related monitoring activities right up until the end of the year.”
WFP’s action is to comply with North Korea’s recent request that the UN agency end its food aid and withdraw its monitoring agents by this month.
Last August, North Korea noticed those international relief organizations that have worked for 10 year there to withdraw from it, saying that it wanted long-term development assistance rather than quick relief.
Bourke mentioned that the relief work by the UN agency had slowed down after North Korea’s request, and that it had planned to shut down not just its food production factories but other activities as well.
According to Bourke, 3.6 million out of WFP’s 6.5 million targeted beneficiaries will not receive any cereal rations this month. They are 2.5 million children attending kindergartens and nurseries, and 1.1 million Food-For-Work people, who are compensated for their labors with food.
No Progress in the Talk with North Korea on the Relief Activities
The food production factories run by WFP have produced mixture food, high calorie biscuits, and nutritious noodles. They have been distributed mainly to children under 5, pregnant women, the aged, and other vulnerable people.
2,100 people have worked in the factories, 90% of which are women.
Bourke mentioned that no progress was made in the talk with North Korea on the future of WFP’s relief activities, and added, “They continue this week, and subject to the availability of both parties, North Korean government officials and WFP officials in Pyongyang.”
Earlier, WFP said that it had a talk with North Korea in its Roman office from the 26th to 27th last month, and found a huge divergence of opinions.
Bourke said WFP was discussing the operational means with North Korea and the donor countries in case it was to give development assistance to North Korea. If an agreement is reached, it may start its work in March next year because WFP committee meeting that approves the plan of operation is scheduled in February.