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U.N.: N. Korea Running Out of Food
By JOE McDONALD
.c The Associated Press
BEIJING (Nov. 3) - Warning that North Korea will run short of food by January, a U.N. official said Saturday his agency will ask foreign donors for 610,000 tons of grain to get the starving country through the winter.
The North's harvest this year was bigger than in 2000 but still 1.47 million tons short of what it needs, said David Morton, representative of the World Food Program in the North. Part of that gap has been filled with donations from Japan, South Korea, the United States and others.
``The food pipeline from donors will stop in January,'' Morton said at a news conference. ``We will need to revive donor contributions ... so that the beneficiaries, the children, don't run out of food in the middle of the winter.''
Isolated, secretive North Korea, the world's last Stalinist dictatorship, has relied on food aid since the mid-1990s. State farms have suffered a string of floods and droughts, worsening damage done by decades of mismanagement and loss of Soviet subsidies.
Morton emphasized that despite a better harvest this year, aid officials see no sign of a sustained recovery.
Children are eating better but hospitals have run out of medicines, he said. Aid agencies have gotten only a limited response to appeals for foreign help to supply clean drinking water.
The harvest this year was about as low as in other hunger-stricken years, Morton said. Last year, grain production had a record shortfall of 2.2 million tons, in part because North Korea lacks pesticides, fuel and other farm supplies. Morton said about one-third as much fertilizer is available as in the early 1990s.
``The fact that we got through the past 12 months without major starvation, I think, is a tribute to the success of the aid groups,'' Morton said.
Small farmers markets have eased shortages in cities, but prices are high, Morton said and 2.2 pounds of rice costs a month's salary for a government employee.
Col. Mike Haas, USAF, ret., author
Apollo's Warriors: U.S. Air Force Special Operations during the Cold War
In the Devil's Shadow: UN Special Operations during the Korean War