ad info

  MAIN PAGE myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Free E-mail | Feedback
   east asia
   southeast asia
   south asia
   central asia

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

 video archive
 multimedia showcase
 more services

Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Get a free e-mail account

 message boards

CNN Websites
 En Español
 Em Português


Networks image
 more networks

 ad info


Food, fuel and medicine shortages plague North Korea

A North Korean man is treated for malnutrion at a hospital  

December 14, 1999
Web posted at: 9:46 p.m. HKT (1346 GMT)

In this story:

Food crisis victimizing children

Workers warn system must change

North Koreans' health precarious


KANGDONG CITY, North Korea (CNN) -- North Koreans, still coping with a famine, are now being forced to face the winter without adequate fuel and medicine -- leaving their health at greater risk than before.

Japan to lift sanctions against North Korea

A chronic energy shortage and sub-zero temperatures have made staying warm in unheated factories, homes and schools a daily struggle in the country of more than 22 million people, said David Morton, the U.N. World Food Program coordinator in North Korea.

"The hospitals that we go to, it's often warmer to talk to the medical staff outside rather than inside," Morton said.

Families still struggle to put food on their tables. The rice crop was recently harvested, but there isn't enough food to go around.

"The harvest is only three-quarters of what they need for the year, even though it was a better one," Morton said. "So there's still a lot of hunger in the country."

Food crisis victimizing children

Many North Korean children are stunted from malnutrition  

North Korean children are the victims of the food crisis, which began in 1995 as a result of natural disasters and economic isolation. Two out of three children in the country have their growth stunted by malnutrition.

A crop assessment issued last month by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated North Korea would have a grain shortfall of 1.29 million tons, and a deficit in other food of 993,000 tons in the coming year.

North Korea had doubled its use of fertilizer between 1998 and 1999, but still met less than one-third of its needs, it said.

"The nutritional situation remains fragile, with a vicious circle of poor nutrition compounding poor health -- and vice versa -- becoming deeply entrenched," the report said.

The World Food Program is helping feed North Korea's 370,000 pregnant and nursing women. Aid workers travel throughout the country checking records to make sure the food is being properly distributed.

Workers warn system must change

But while international food aid has helped save lives, workers are warning the country's economic system will have to change or North Korea could perpetually be dependent on handouts.

Aid workers suggest the Communist nation will have to let outside capitalists finance large-scale investments in the country if the situation is to ease.

"A lot of the industry has deteriorated in the last 20 years. There's not been that much investment. It's going to need a lot of private investment and inputs from the financial institutions," Morton said.

Morton was the second U.N. official in just over a week to emerge from North Korea with grim accounts of conditions in the staunchly Communist state, where floods and drought from the mid-1990s caused hundreds of thousands of starvation deaths.

An official of the United Nations Children's Fund said last week that inadequate funding was hampering United Nations efforts to provide crucial vaccinations and medicine, and threatened a majority of children with potentially deadly diseases.

North Koreans' health precarious

The fuel shortages, coupled with similarly drastic shortages of medicine and fertilizer, have meant the health of North Koreans remained precarious three years after the peak of the Stalinist state's famine.

"The peak has passed, and the food situation has improved somewhat since then as a result of better harvests in 1998 and 1999, and also because of the effects of very large quantities of food and other aid," Morton said.

"But the crisis is by no means over. In fact, on the health situation, we see a deterioration in the delivery of health services and in the condition of people."

Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon and Reuters contributed to this report.


Scores of children dead in North Korea famine - Apr. 8, 1997
U.N. to double food aid to North Korea - Mar. 18, 1997
North Korea receives aid to avert famine - June 11, 1996

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works for children worldwide

U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.