UNITED NATIONS, April 29 (UPI) -- Five U.N. agencies appealed for $29.4 million to meet the most critical health and nutrition needs for the people of North Korea through the end of the year.
"Despite a slight improvement of the overall humanitarian situation over the last 12 months, the structural causes of people's vulnerability persist," the agencies said Monday in a release issued from the U.N. headquarters in New York.
"External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting the well-being of millions whose food security, nutritional status and general health would otherwise be seriously compromised," the World Food Program, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the U.N. Population Fund said.
The agencies' operations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- as North Korea is known officially -- have received about 27 percent of the $147 million needed this year to respond to humanitarian priorities. Because of the persisting deficit, the agencies said they couldn't respond effectively to humanitarian needs in the poor Communist country.
"The dire funding situation leaves the U.N. agencies and other humanitarian actors concerned about the continuation of their program in DPRK," the agencies said.