North Korea's Food Crisis Worsening

SEOUL, South Korea, JULY 4, 2005 ( Caritas-Korea allocated $500,000 to help the population of North Korea after the Pyongyang government drastically cut food rations.

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North Korea is facing its most serious food crisis since 1990. The situation could worsen, given that the Pyongyang regime plans to reduce rations from 250 grams to 200 grams per day, the lowest level since January 2001, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The 200-gram level represents about one-third of the calories necessary for a human being’s survival. The system of food rations does not provide any particular subsidies.

Unofficial sources talk of 3.6 million elderly, children and pregnant women who live off vegetable porridge.

Vatican Radio reported that from 1993 to 1998 the North Korean gross national product fell from $991 million to $457 million. Life expectancy fell from 73.2 to 66.8 years, and infant mortality rate increased to 22% from 14%. Mortality rates among children under age 5 soared to 48% from 27%.

The U.N. World Food Program has warned that more than 6.5 million people, out of a population of 22 million, are in danger of death from hunger.

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