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Fourth of North Korean children malnourished, U.N. reports

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By The Associated Press
Friday, March 15, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations reminded the world on Friday that malnutrition remains prevalent in North Korea, where the Kim regime has repressed its people for half a century.

Slightly more than a fourth of all North Korean children are stunted from chronic malnutrition, and two-thirds of the country's 24 million people don't know where their next meal will come from, the U.N. report said.

The report illustrates a major domestic challenge for North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un.

A team from the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reporting from North Korea, found that 2.8 million North Koreans “are in need of regular food assistance amidst worrying levels of chronic malnutrition and food insecurity.” It said 4 percent of North Korean children are acutely malnourished.

The OCHA team found that much of North Korea's support structure is crumbling under the third generation of Kim family rule.

“Supplies of medicine and equipment are inadequate; water and heating systems need repair, and the infrastructure of schools and colleges is deteriorating rapidly,” the report said.

The report said humanitarian aid should be neutral and impartial “and must not be contingent on political developments.”

Aid agencies have estimated that as many as 2 million people have died since the mid-1990s because of acute food shortages caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement. The country relies on foreign aid to feed millions of its people.

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