The DPRK has made a lot of progress on the humanitarian front since 2012, although challenges remain regarding child malnutrition and lack of safe water and medical supplies, a visiting UN official said in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
Mark Lowcock, UN Undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, at a press briefing said he held talks with DPRK officials and reviewed the impact of international humanitarian assistance as well as challenges facing the country.
He said the DPRK has made a lot of progress, illustrated by the fact that the number of stunted children has dropped from 28 per cent to 20 per cent since 2012.
Lowcock said the DPRK would receive a 110 million dollars assistance package through donations by UN member countries.
He pointed out that DPRK still faces a lot of challenges in child malnutrition, lack of safe water, and above all, medical supply shortages in hospitals and nurseries.
The UN official visited a hospital, a kindergarten and some farming areas in DPRK’s South Hwanghae Province.
Lowcock’s visit was the first to the DPRK by a UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator in seven years.
He said that he was concern about the high level of challenges of malnutrition and other concerned situations in the Sahel.
“In a severe lean season, anticipated to last until September, the number of people who need food and livelihoods support may increase to 6.5 million.
“In Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, nearly 6 million people are struggling to meet their daily food needs. Severe malnutrition threatens the lives of 1.6 million children.
“These are levels unseen since the crisis of 2012, and the most critical months are still ahead.
“Governments in the region were successful in beating back the crisis six years ago, I am encouraged by the efforts of regional partners to scale up their operations following early warning signs,’’ Lowcock said.
He said that the rapid deterioration over recent months reveals an urgent need for more donor support.
The crisis was triggered by scarce and erratic rainfall in 2017, resulting in water, crop and pasture shortages and livestock losses. Pastoralists had to undertake the earliest seasonal movement of livestock in 30 years four months earlier and much further than usual.
This has also increased the likelihood of conflict with farmer communities over scarce resources, water and land.
“Food security across the region has deteriorated. Food stocks have already run out for millions of people.
“Families are cutting down on meals, withdrawing children from school and going without essential health treatment to save money for food.
“Severe acute malnutrition rates in the six countries have increased by 50 per cent since 2017. One child in six under the age of five now needs urgent life-saving treatment to survive,’’ he said.
He said in Burkina Faso, the number of people facing food insecurity has already jumped nearly threefold since 2017.
“In Mali, the numbers of people in ‘emergency’ conditions have increased by 120 per cent while in Mauritania, severe acute malnutrition rates are at their highest since 2008,’’ he said.