09/26/2005, 00.00
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UN close their food factories "as requested from Pyongyang"

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The UN relief agency delivering food in North Korea said it plans to shut its reprocessing factories there in November, complying with the country's request that emergency aid be halted.

The World Food Programme, which has helped feed the North's 22 million people for a decade, said in a report it would "halt production of fortified foods in all 19 WFP-supported factories".

"The decision follows last week's request by [North Korean] authorities that all food distributions and monitoring activities under the current emergency operation be completed by the end of November," the report said.

Since starting emergency aid in 1995, the WFP has distributed about 4 million tonnes of food worth US.5 billion in the North.

Richard Ragan, WFP chief in Pyongyang, said North Koreans "claim they have enough food coming in from other sources", indicating this included aid from South Korea and increased trade with China.

South Korea has periodically sent rice and fertilizer to the North to help ease the communist nation's food shortages, and this year has pledged 500,000 tons of rice and 350,000 tons of fertilizer.

In August, South Korea proposed building a joint-venture farm in North Korea to help ease food shortages there.

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