|In this November 6, 2017 file photo, the UN World Food Program's logo at the agency's headquarters in New York. (File photo by=AP/Robert Bumstead)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] The World Food Programme (WFP) could suspend its operations in North Korea this year as restrictions on imports remains due to the coronavirus pandemic, a report on its website showed Tuesday.
The report stated that the U.N. aid agency continued to face difficulties in sending its staff in the North, with its physical monitoring activities being curtailed for a prolonged period of time. "Pandemic-related restrictions do not ease and food imports, international staff deployments, and physical monitoring access remain curtailed for a prolonged period," the WFP said. "WFP will opportunistically use windows in which food imports are allowed to replenish and optimize in-country stocks and mitigate against import delays. However, there is a significant residual risk that, should food imports not be possible, operations will cease in 2021," it added.
Humanitarian aid efforts in the North have been severely hampered due to Pyongyang's tightened border controls put in place since early last year, though it has claimed to be coronavirus-free. Meanwhile, North Korea is believed to be faced with a food shortage of about 1.2 million to 1.3 million tons this year. The unification minister earlier said that the ministry is exploring various ways to provide food and fertilizers to North Korea in humanitarian assistance.