North Korea malnutrition worsened in 2017, humanitarian agencies say

Oct. 11 (UPI) — More North Korean children were hungry in 2017 than there were a year ago, according to international humanitarian organizations.

In its annual 2018 Global Hunger Index, Concern Worldwide, German World Hunger Aid, and the U.S.-based International Food Policy Research Institute, ranked North Korea as a country at serious risk, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Thursday.

“The statistics are both staggering and sobering. Approximately 124 million people [worldwide] suffer acute hunger, a striking increase from 80 million two years ago, while the reality of hunger and undernutrition continues to have a massive impact on the next generation,” the report read.

“About 151 million children [around the world] are stunted and 51 million children are wasted across the globe. Hard-won gains are being further threatened by conflict, climate change, poor governance, and a host of other challenges.”

To calculate the Global Hunger Index score, each country was evaluated across four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality.

Countries are categorized according to the severity of the food situation in the country, and are given a standardized score on a 100-point scale. Countries with a score of 50 or higher are categorized as “extremely alarming,” 35 to 49.9 “alarming,” 20 to 34.9 “serious,” 10 to 19.9 “moderate” and ten or lower as “low.”

North Korea ranked 11th among the 119 countries surveyed. With a score of 34, North Korea’s hunger situation is considered to be serious, and worse than the previous year when the country ranked 27th, with a better score of 28.2.

Countries in a hunger crisis include the Central African Republic, with a score of 53.7, Chad at 45.4, and Yemen at 39.7.

The U.N. World Food Program has said funding shortages have contributed to malnutrition among North Korean children.

“Ten million people — that’s 40 percent of the population — are undernourished and require humanitarian assistance. One in every five children is suffering of chronic malnutrition,” said Herve Verhoosel, a spokesman for the World Food Program.

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