Issued weekly by the United Nations World Food Programme
Report No. 20 of 1997 Date: 16 May 1997

(Details below in Part II)


1. Update

a) WFP logistics mission concludes visit; port and general logistics infrastructure reviewed.

b) FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission in DPR Korea from 17 to 24 May; previous mission in late 1996 warned that current deterioration in food situation was inevitable without large-scale food imports.




1.1 A WFP mission, led by the Director of the Transport and Logistics Division visited DPR Korea from 26 April to 10 May. The main purpose of the mission was to review the ports and general logistics infrastructure of the country to check whether it would be able to cope with a dramatic increase in the imports of food. The mission was able to visit the ports of Nampo on the West coast and Chongjin and Hamhung on the east coast. It also visited the town of Sinuiju, in the north-western part of the country, on the border between DPR Korea and China.

1.2 The conclusion of the mission was that although the port infrastructure is old and has not been used intensively for the last few years, it should be capable of handling up to one million metric tons over a period of six months. Movement up-country and storage are also possible, using rail, road and river transport. The major difficulties in establishing an efficient distribution chain are a lack of adequate pulling power for the trains, the poor condition of the wagons and a general lack of fuel in the country. However, it is not expected that the aid will be blocked in the ports as a consequence of these limiting factors.

1.3 As the food crisis in DPR Korea deepens, an FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission will be in the country from 17 to 24 May. The team is scheduled to travel to the worst affected areas in the country, particularly the northern regions where there are many reports of people resorting to such coping mechanisms as foraging for wild plants, and eating ground corn stalks, rice straw, bean pods and pine tree bark.

1.4 The last FAO/WFP assessment mission in late 1996 reported that DPR Korea needed 2.36 million tons of additional food to meet its basic needs this year. The team warned in December that there were only enough food stocks to feed the country through to June, and that requirements until the harvest in October would need to be covered by imports. The mission concluded at that time that there would be a heavy dependence on large-scale international assistance to help the country meet minimum food requirements, and a critical deterioration in the food supply situation between July and September could be expected if enough food was not mobilized before the onset of this period.

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