By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) – The World Food Program (WFP) on Monday expressed concern over the worsening food crisis in North Korea.
During a visit to South Korea, WFP Executive Director David Beasley appealed for donations to support food aid to Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported.
“We are very concerned about the situation there and we are hopeful that we can come up with some solutions,” Beasley said after his meeting in Seoul with South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul to discuss North Korea's worsening food situation.
"Whatever we do, we will assure the donors that the food or any assistance will meet their objectives. We have monitoring systems in place," he added.
South Korea has expressed its desire to send shipments of food aid to the North after WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a joint report that nearly 10 million North Koreans “are in urgent need of food”.
It was in 2010 that South Korea last provided food assistance to North Korea. The communist country was hit badly by floods that year. Seoul had delivered 5,000 tons of rice to Pyongyang.
U.S. President Donald Trump has supported the latest food aid move by Seoul.
The WFP and FAO said that North Korea's crop output last year hit the lowest level since 2008 urging UN member states, including South Korea, to contribute to their efforts to help North Korea with its worsening food shortfalls.
"We are assessing the situation. Obviously, everybody knows there was bad weather, droughts, flooding. There was bad snow, there was a lot of different conditions impacting the food security situation in North Korea," Beasley said in Seoul today.
"The report speaks for itself. So, we have very serious concerns."
Beasley also met South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha who said Beasley's visit came at "a very timely moment".
The South Korean unification minister will meet leaders from civic groups and religious organizations on Tuesday as part of efforts to listen to their opinions with regard to food assistance to the North.
North Korea is facing severe UN sanctions since 2006 after it unilaterally test-fired its nuclear arsenal. Sanctions have left it isolated from the international community.