12/16/2005, 00.00
North Korea
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UN agency ends food aid for Koreans

Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The World Food Programme is shutting its food aid scheme in North Korea as it moves from feeding people to offering development aid following Pyongyang's request.

Richard Ragan, the WFP's country director there, said the UN agency had closed the 19 food processing plants it operated in the country and its five sub-offices.

"We've stopped our programmes. We will not feed anybody past the end of December ... We're only feeding 600,000 people today out of 6.5 million people [WFP had been feeding]," he said.

The WFP has been helping to feed the hungry in North Korea since famine in the mid-1990s killed two million people.

North Korea announced in early August that it no longer required food assistance from the WFP and other overseas aid groups from January, despite international concerns of widespread starvation. WFP officials said there were still food shortages.

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